Review Roundup: Did Critics Make a Match in Yiddish FIDDLER ON THE ROOF?
The critically-acclaimed National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish opens tonight at Stage 42 (422 W 42nd St.) for a limited engagement through June 30, 2019.
The unprecedented success of this Yiddish language production of Fiddler - which is accompanied with English and Russian supertitles was presented by NYTF at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Place) and extended and sold out four times following its premiere there on July 4, 2018. It ran through December 30, 2018.
Directed by Academy Award-and-Tony Award winner Joel Grey, the Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish cast includes, Broadway veteran Steven Skybell as Tevye, Emmy Award-nominee Jackie Hoffman as Yente, Jennifer Babiak as Golde, Joanne Borts as Sheyndl, Michael Einav as Ensemble; Lisa FishmanBobe Tsatyl, Kirk Geritano as Avrom; Abby Goldfarb as Female Swing; Samantha Hahn as Beylke; Cameron Johnson as Fyedka; John Giesige as Male Swing/Dance Captain; Ben Liebert as Motl Kamzoyl; Moshe Lobel as Understudy; Stephanie Lynne Mason as Hodl; Evan Mayer as Sasha; Rosie Jo Neddy as Khave; Raquel Nobile as Shprintze; Jonathan Quigley as Ensemble; Nick Raynor as Yosl; Bruce Sabath as Leyzer- Volf; Kayleen Seidl as Ensemble; Drew Seigla as Perchik; Adam B. Shapiro as Der Rov; Jodi Snyder as Frume-Sore; James Monroe tevko as Mendl; Lauren Jeanne Thomas as Der Fiddler; Bobby Underwood as Der Gradavoy; Mikhl Yashinsky as Nokhum/Mordkhe and Rachel Zatcoff as Tsaytl.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
David Roone, The Hollywood Reporter: Grey navigates the show's many shifts from comedy to pathos, from elation to fear and desolation, with a supple hand, and the heartfelt investment in the story and characters is evident throughout. This production is such a labor of love that it's virtually impossible not to respond to its emotional trenchancy. No revival of Fiddler will ever come close to the original's epic eight-year run, but this one demands to be seen.
Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: And no matter what language you speak, you'll recognize the pogrom that interrupts Tsaytl and Motl's wedding, which is punctuated by a lengthy series of ominous offstage cries and clatter, culminating in perhaps the ultimate act of disrespect: defacing the Torah. (There were audible gasps in the house.) Surely I wasn't the only one who at that moment-or, toward the end, when the villagers are ordered at gunpoint to leave their beloved hometown, "underfed, overworked Anatevke...intimate obstinate Anatevke"-thought about last fall's fatal shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Fiddler has never felt old or dated, but now, unfortunately, it feels especially timely.
Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review: There's a lot to smile at in this wonderful production, directed by the actor Joel Grey, which opened tonight as likely the first-ever success at Stage 42, that just-outside-the-Lincoln-Tunnel off-Broadway venue formerly known as the Little Shubert. The Folksbiene is a 100-odd-year-old institution, a connection to the Golden Age of Yiddish theater, and this staging must be its most successful production at least since Fyvush Finkel was in short pants. Working from a 1966 script previously performed only in Israel, it was extended four times at the troupe's home in the Museum of Jewish Heritage before making the transfer uptown.
Howard Sherman, The Stage: The authenticity imparted to a musical familiar for half a century argues for the benefit of seeing other shows either in their original language - or in the language appropriate to their setting. The US needs more Molière on its stages in general, and why not in French? What about more Chekhov in Russian? And what might Sondheim's Pacific Overtures or Passion reveal to us in Japanese or Italian respectively?
The Yiddish Fiddler, in its largely archaic tongue, also serves to remind audiences of how this 50-year-old musical remains startlingly current, sad to say.
Barbara Schuler, Newsday: The production sticks closely to the earlier version, replicating Beowulf Boritt's spare set (impressive what can be done with a few tables and chairs) and Ann Hould-Ward's costumes, somewhere between period and contemporary. Sta? Kmie?'s choreography honors the original work of Jerome Robbins, the famed bottle dance as heart-stopping as ever.
Tony winner Joel Grey directs with loving reverence to the show's history, but also a keen sense of its enduring relevance. When the villagers are forced to leave their homes, some say they will go to America. You have to wonder what kind of welcome awaited them.
Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp: The 27-strong ensemble is top to bottom impressive in letting us see how the traditions and tranquility of the Russia villagers they portray are challenged and finally erupt into tragedy. The Anatekvan at the center of it all is of course Tevye the milkman. Happily, Steven Skybell is as satisfying a Tevye as I've ever seen. If his milkman were philosophizing on a Broadway rather than an Off-Broadway stage, he would surely be a contender for Best Actor in a Musical performance (as would Joel Grey for the director's slot).