BWW Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Morrison Center
Family, tradition, and community, are three words used to describe the incredible production of Fiddler On The Roof that stopped by the Morrison Center. Fiddler on the Roof follows the story of Tevye, a poor milkman, and his family as they struggle to stay faithful to the traditions of their people. Tevye struggles to decide which is more important, his family, or his devotion to God. Tevye's family seems to face one trial after another; From weddings being destroyed to a daughter leaving home. It seems each event that happens, pulls Tevye closer and closer to his breaking point. Though he communicates often with the audience and God through one-liners, we see him slowly being torn between his loyalties. He realizes his attempt to keep a balance between God and the changing world can be compared to a fiddler on a roof.
Based on a selection of short stories by Sholem Aleichem the musical became an instant hit in 1964. The original production went on for 3,242 performances. Since then it has become the most revived musical. With book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, this show has made an impact on musical theatre by demonstrating how successful storytelling should be done.
While other Golden Age musicals from this period stay remarkable and true to our hearts (ie: Carousel, South Pacific and West Side Story). Fiddler on the Roof is in a class by itself. Young and old alike identify themselves in this fun and bright set of characters. Fiddler on the Roof leaves audience members pondering life-affirming questions like, "What would you do for love?"
With directing by Barlett Sher and choreography by Hofesh Shechter this production, with modern adjustments is still appealing to classic musical fans. Michael Yeargin's set beautifully captures the time and place where the stories were told. Catherine Zuber's gorgeous costumes stayed true to the time and were as important to the story as the characters on the stage. Donald Holder's light design is simple but adds a touch of elegance to the entire show. Whenever we got to see inside Tevye's mind with a monologue the lighting would switch to a more vibrant shade. It was an integral part of the storytelling.
The cast was absolutely incredible, in the lead role of Tevye was Danny Arnold who shone brightly on the stage. He had the ability to make you go from laughing one moment, to crying the next. His voice was truly incredible; it blended beautifully in ensembles while being strong and commanding in solos and duets. As Golde, his devoted wife, we had Maite Uzal, who, simply put, had me on the edge of my seat with her beautiful acting. Her voice stood out throughout the rest of the cast, the character of Golde is stern but loyal. Two words I can definitely see in her portrayal. As Yente we had Carol Beaugard. Her comedic timing was excellent, she landed each line perfectly. Tzeitel, the eldest daughter, was perfectly portrayed by Kelly Gabrielle Murphy. As Hodel, Ruthy Froch stood out and had the audience mesmerized. From Matchmaker (A song sung by three of Tevye's daughters) to Far From the Home I Love, her strong voice floated throughout the entire theatre and made you want more when her time on the stage was over. As Chava, Noa Luz Barenblat, was stellar. She offered a wide range of emotions, from the joy she has when with family, to the heartbreak seen when ultimately her papa disowns her. We see a world of emotions in a short period. One remarkable note about these characters is the love interests played by Nick Siccone as Motel, Nick Casaula as Perchik, and Jack O'Brien as Fyedka. Murphy's Tzeitel with Siccone's Motel, Froch's Hodel with Casaula's Perchik and Barenblat's Chava with O'Brien's Fyedka were all perfectly paired up. Each pairing was a key element to why the daughters made the choices they made.
What makes this show so relatable even with audiences in 2020? Like the Jews forced to leave Anatevka, we have similar scenarios. From LGBT youth being kicked out of their homes, to people leaving due to abuse and mistreatment. According to one patron, she stated: "Fiddler reminds me that even though some things have changed, the world has some things that won't change."
Fiddler on the Roof was at the Morrison Center on January 3-5th.