Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace, IL

Production runs through March 24

By: Feb. 02, 2024
Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace, IL

To family and life.

The new production at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace is Fiddler on the Roof.  Under the direction of Elizabeth Margolius, this is a different looking production. It works. The scenic design is subtle but very powerful. The screens on both sides and the back of stage are used to show enlarged photos of different characters during certain scenes. It is very effective. One of the more poignant moments is during Sabbath Prayer. We see flickering candles on all screens. This story of Tevye (Mark David Kaplan), his wife Golde (Janna Cardia) and their 5 daughters is shown in an entirely different staging than what most audience members are expecting. The lighting design by Jason Lynch is very subdued. During this time in Russia for Jews, life was not exploding in brightness. Jack Magaw’s set design is very simple. The major structure is used to depict the buildings in the village. Tevye and his wife are trying to find husbands for their three eldest daughters, Tzeitel (Emma Rosenthal), Hodel (Yael Eden Chanukov in her Drury Lane debut) and Chava (Abby Goldberg in her Drury Lane debut). They are working with the local matchmaker Yente (Janet Ulrich Brooks in another enjoyable comic role). All three find husbands but not through Yente. Tzeitel marries Motel the tailor (Michael Kurowski in his Drury Lane debut), Hodel becomes engaged to Perchik (Zach Sorrow making his Drury Lane debut) who leaves to be a part of the revolution and Chava marries Fyedka (Grant Kilian in his Drury Lane debut) but without Tevye’s blessing because he is outside of the faith. The villagers are informed by the Constable (Jeff Parker) that they must sell their houses and be out of the village within 3 days. As everyone is leaving, Chava tells Tzeitel she and Fyedka are leaving as well. Tevye says “God be with you”.

In this production, there is no fiddler. However, as the lights go down, a single white fiddle appears on the stage. The orchestra, under the direction of Christopher Sargent, adds to the poignancy of the story with Jerry Brock’s haunting score. Fiddler was conceived from stories written by Yiddish author Solomon Rabinovich. As a playwright he was known as Sholom Aleichem. During these times, this story really shows the importance of family and where we came from.  See this with your family. It will make you wonder about your own family history. Talk about it. Share it. Write it down. Drury Lane’s production will inspire you to continue to tell your story.