Review Roundup: National Tour of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - What Do the Critics Think?
The North American tour of the Tony Award - nominated Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof in underway. A beloved theatrical classic from Tony-winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize-winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Fiddler on the Roof is directed by Tony-Award winner Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, The King and I) and choreographed by the acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter.
The cast is led by Israeli film and TV star, Yehezkel Lazarov who takes on the lead role of Tevye in this production of Fiddler on the Roof. The cast will feature return performances from Maite Uzal as Golde, Jonathan von Mering as Lazar Wolf,
Carol Beaugard as Yente, Ruthy Froch as Hodel and Danny Arnold as Tevye in select cities. Additional casting includes Kelly Gabrielle Murphy as Tzeitel, Noa Luz Barenblat as Chava, Emma Taylor Schwartz as Shprintze, Carly Post as Bielke, Nick Siccone as Motel, Nic Casaula as Perchik, Jack O'Brien as Fyedka and Andrew Hendrick as Constable. The ensemble includes Jessica Altchiler, Mateus Barbosa da Silva, Nicholas Berke, Andrea Marie Bush, Cam Cote, David Scott Curtis, David Ferguson, Kelly Glyptis, Michael Greenberg, Yochai Greenfeld, Bennett J. Leeds, Sam McLellan, Randa Meierhenry, Carlye Messman, Ali Arian Molaei, Alynn Rinah Parola, Gray Randolph, Cassandra Surianello, Brooke Wetterhahn and Scott Willits.
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Dave Perry, Sentinel Colorado: Yehezkel Lazarov brings new depth and overflowing charm to the role of Tevye, the world's most famous poor, kvetching dairyman from the early 20th Century hole-in-the wall village of Anatevka in Russia. He deftly handles the tricky balance of Tevye's humor, corniness and honesty. Just as rounded is Maite Uzal as Golde, Tevye's exhausted and domineering wife. Uzal also brings depth to what could easily become a caricature. Maite's Golde is stern, vulnerable and believable.
Beki Pineda, Get Boulder: This revised edition of score and choreography trades the dignity of the original Jerome Robbins dances for a more energetic, contemporary version of folk dancing with long black coats flapping and synchronized arms in sharp precision. Even the famous "bottle" dance at the wedding shows that there are no tricks to keep the bottles in place on top of the hats by allowing them to fall when the dancer erred, making the more dynamic movements later in the dance even more precarious. The dream scene when Tevye is trying to convince Golde that they should let the young people get married as they wish by describing his nightmare in which Lazar Wolf's late wife reappears has been staged as a distorted Keystone Kops routine.
James D. Watts, Tulsa World: Lazarov is a superb Tevye. He is a natural comedian, though he wisely underplays lines and scenes that could easily become vaudevillian. If anything, it makes the few moments when he does milk a particular joke even funnier. And his interactions with Uzal as Golde are among the highlights of the show, as these two performers strike all sorts of sparks with their acerbic banter and the rare yet poignant moments of tenderness ("Sunrise, Sunset," "Do You Love Me?").
Chas Young, Nashville Parent: This is the absolute best production of Fiddler on the Roof I've ever experienced. This vibrant, three-hour musical is highly engaging from start to finish, filled with so many astounding, unforgettable numbers like "Tradition," "If I Were a Rich Man," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "Sunrise, Sunset," "The Wedding," "Do You Love Me?" and more. The robust cast delivers each musical number with vibrancy while executing Robbins' and Shechter's sharp, exquisite choreography - especially with the crowd-pleasing "bottle dance" during Tzeitel's wedding. This phenomenal number finds the dancers balancing wine bottles on their heads, and Schechter adds more gravity-defying moves to this favorite scene.
Jeffrey Ellis, BroadwayWorld: This production of Fiddler (directed on Broadway by Bartlett Sher and featuring the choreography of Hofesh Shechter) is eminently watchable and enormously engaging. Bookended by the presence of a contemporary fellow reading from a volume of Aleichem's collected works, the tale's resonance is quickly realized, drawing audiences instantly into the tale as it plays out before them onstage. Sher's direction is fluid and cinematic in nature as one scene dovetails perfectly into the next, energized by Shechter's exquisite movement (his "Bottle Dance" is spectacularly performed by the multi-talented ensemble) which moves the story along with a graceful ease that belies the physicality of the choreography and the earnestness of the storytelling.
Basil Considine, Twin Cities Arts: The vision for this production, following the 2015 revival directed by Bartlett Sher, sows ample visual and atmospheric hints of the events to come. Along the way, we get to see a veritable series of compelling romances (not all successful), in which various actors showcase themselves. The famous "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" song is very cutely delivered by Mel Weyn, Ruthy Froch, and Natalie Powers. Jesse Weil's exuberant delivery of "Miracle of Miracles" is an effervescent delight. There are other moments, to be sure, but the real question is: do you want to see a very excellent production of a musical that's fun to listen to and has a few story threads that make you think about your dear ones and current events? If so, the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof has a show for you.
Brett Burger, BroadwayWorld: The cast is the driving force of the show and are all giving exceptional performances, specifically each daughter. Tzeitel, is played by Mel Weyn, Hodel, played by Ruthy Froch, and Chava, played by Natalie Powers, are the three oldest daughters. Each shine in their own way but within the first half of the show, they sing another memorable song "Matchmaker" which had many audience members swaying to the nostalgic tune. Their voices are beautiful, blend well and form a sisterhood bond that is apparent from the very start. I also want to highlight Jesse Weil, who plays Motel, the tailor. Weil is absolutely charming in this role along.
Wayne Lee Gay, Theater Jones: Choreography quickly emerges as one of the strongest assets of this production. The influence of Jerome Robbins' original choreography for the 1964 is respectfully acknowledged, with new additions and dance arrangements by Hoffesh Schechter, all adapted for the tour by Oran Eldor. The playing out of gender roles and community expectations comes to the fore as papas, mamas, sons, and daughters all dutifully delineate and their duties and expectations.
Jimmy "The Saint" Christopher, KRLD: At first, Yehezkel Lazarov, seemed to be a surprising choice for the role of Tevye, played by Zero Mostel in the original and first revival on Broadway. Yehezkel's portrayal of the role demonstrated a younger, more light-hearted character that revealed a modern personality not traditionally seen in this story. The Daughters, Mel Weyn as Tzeitel, Ruthy Froch's Hodel, Natalie Powers as proto-feminist Chava, Danielle Allen's Shprintze and Emerson Glick as Bielke were all spot-on as was Maite Uzal as Tevye's wife Golde. Self-emancipating tailor Motel, (Jesse Weil) and the socialist agitator revolutionary Perchik by Ryne Narecchia were solid.
Zac Thriffiley, BroadwayWorld: As ubiquitous as the musical has become, however, this current production makes a compelling argument for the freshness and timelessness of FIDDLER and its message. Under the original direction of Bartlett Sher, performers and designers fill every scene and musical number with a renewed sense of urgency, determined to show that the forces that worked upon Tevye's family and his tight-knit community are still very much hard at work all these decades later.
Even at three hours (including intermission), the sprawling show still captivates with its relatable themes, engaging characters and, especially, its dynamic song-and-dance numbers, from the crowd-pleasing bottle dance at "The Wedding" to the athletic new meaning of table-hopping in the drinking song "To Life." Once the longest-running musical in Broadway history, the original 1964 production won nine Tony Awards and inspired a hit 1971 movie, and "Fiddler on the Roof" maintains its perch as a top-notch classic.
The Marriage Matinee, BroadwayWorld: To start any show of Fiddler on the Roof, you need the cast to be led by a great Tevye (Yehezkel Lazarov), a milkman struggling with lifelong poverty to keep his wife, Golde (Maite Uzal) and daughters fed, all during a constant, and often testy, inner monologue with either himself or God discussing the trials of reality. "I know that we are the Chosen People, but once in a while, can't you choose someone else?" he asks during a moment with God. Tackling that mighty of a role with all the combative inner struggles and heroic delight it requires, Yehezkel Lazarov brought an enthusiastic charm, fatherly warmth, whitty intelligence, and sometimes even a bearish nature.
Rita Kohn, NUVO: The turning point is the wedding of Tzeitel and Motel. Though we might choose to hold out for yet another miracle...something akin people being nice to "other people," in our heart we know it's the closing chapter on 'normal.' Yehezkel Lazarov embraces us with a compelling Tevye. Maite Uzal brings spice to Golde; Kelly Gabrielle Murphy, Ruthy Froch and Noa Luz Barenblat win our hearts as the three older daughters, as do their soul mates-in-marriage: Nick Ciccone, Nic Casaula and Jack O'Brien. Carol Beaugard takes matchmaking personally, Jonathan Von Mering brings an edge to Lazar Wolf [feel a bit of kinship with Hello, Dolly?] The entire cast, along with the orchestra conducted by Michael Gildin, earned the ovation.
John Kissane, The Rapidian: Musicals open all the time, most of them bad. To last fifty-five years, and not as a museum piece but as a still-popular show, requires excellence and lasting relevance. In this latest excellent, relevant production, we see why some traditions are worth keeping.
Brian Hilbrand, BroadwayWorld: With the awesome techie stuff, I would also have to highlight the awesome dancers in the show. Fiddler is a very choreographed show where the cast is moving the set and dancing at the same time. With this version straying away from the traditional music style a little bit, I found the music to be refreshing and was constantly wondering where they would go with it next since parts of it I found very unpredictable. I would definitely recommend seeing Fiddler on The Roof while it's in Grand Rapids.
Cristina Pla-Guzman, BroadwayWorld: Stunning choreography from acclaimed Israeli choreographer, Hofesh Shechter, reimagined Jerome Robbins' renowned choreography. Every movement spoke to the story. Each dance served to tell the story just as if not, even more than the lines themselves.