BWW Reviews: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - A 'Tradition' With Lots of Heart
BWW REVIEWS: "FIDDLER ON THE ROOF" - A "TRADITION" WITH LOTS OF HEART
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Directed by Vince Vanni
Choreography by L.A. Chiucchi Dysart
Musical Direction by Randi Hoidalen Olsen
October 18, 2013 at 7:30 P.M.
The lights dim in the cavernous hall, and the faint sound of a violin begins. Atop a thatched roof, is the vision of a Fiddler and then...the room becomes suddenly alive, in a grand opening, with the robust voices of over 50 peasant, villagers, singing "TRADITION!..TRADITION!" And thus begins an enthusiastic and heartfelt rendition, of the classic American musical, "FIDDLER on the ROOF", presented by the Live Oak Theatre Company, in Brooksville, FL.
The original Broadway production of the show, directed by Jerome Robbins, opened in 1964 and was the first musical in musical theatre history, to surpass 3,000 performances. "FIDDLER on the ROOF", held the record for the longest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years and remains Broadway's 16th longest-running show in history. It was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, winning 9, including Best Musical, score, book, direction and choreography. In 1972, "FIDDLER on the ROOF" was presented with a special Tony award for "Longest-running Musical in Broadway History." There have been 4 Broadway revivals, and in 1971, a highly successful film adaptation as well, winning 3 Academy Awards.
People can still relate to the storyline today, during these changing times (after almost 50 years), as it reveals serious social and economic issues, including poverty, the challenges of the working poor, and anti-Semitism.
"FIDDLER on the ROOF", is set in 1905, Tzarist Russia, in the little, peasant, village of Anetevka. The story revolves around Tevye, a poor dairyman and father of 5 daughters. Tevye struggles with the challenge of his love and dedication to his family and his love and dedication to Jewish traditions. The songs are as well-known as the play, "Tradition," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man," "Sunrise, Sunset", and have become popular standards.
The Live Oak Theatre Company promised a "unique experience" with this production and has delivered it in spades! This production is a showcase, for what a group of volunteers can accomplish with talent, hard work, and ingenuity. There is no stage. The performance is on floor level, in the center of the room, with the audience seated at large tables on 3 sides of the playing area. There are no sets, except for a thatched roof above the orchestra. Set pieces are used to convey each scene, (a chair, a table, a bed etc.) There are a few stage lights mounted on tall, steel poles. In addition, there is interaction and some audience participation. This is something that I have never experienced before with any production of "FIDDLER on the ROOF"...anywhere. And the eager, "willing" audience loved it! This production is by far, Live Oaks very best!
Kudos to Vince Vanni, who has not only taken on the enormous responsibility in the role of Tevye, but as Director as well. Mr. Vanni proves to be a "sturdy" papa, underplaying the role, which in turn brings more honesty and sincerity to his "gentler" portrayal. Vanni's talents vividly display Tevye's joy, pain and struggles, so common to us all. Myndee Fleury Washington, as his wife Golde, gave a feisty performance, wisely avoiding what could be easily interpreted as "shrewish" dialogue. Instead, Ms. Fleury Washington balances the perfect combination of vibrant authority and tenderness. Vanni and Fleury Washington have great chemistry, especially in an audience favorite, the touching, "Do You Love Me?". Their answer to this question is unspoken, yet very clear. ("YES, they do".)