BWW Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Is A Focus on Family
After being in a show for over 300 times, how to do you keep it fresh? For Kelly Gabrielle Murphy in Fiddler on the Roof, it's all about the relationships built along the way - with the audience and her fellow performers.
We started off by asking, "How do you make the production feel 'new' after so many performances and keep the same level of impact every time?" For Kelly, "the musical is such a classic" and "the writing is so great" that it can't help but resonate with people. For some people, this show is a classic, for some they are just now seeing it for the first time, but that's what's special about this show. It spans generations and everyone can get the theme of family. Kelly feels that every show comes with a brand new audience and is a chance to touch someone on a personal level.
From what we gathered from Kelly, this is not your rabbi's Fiddler on the Roof. We had the chance to ask what makes it different from the movie, multiple revivals, and numerous Tony Award wins and nominations spanning from 1964 to 2004. "I always have loved the classics, the Golden Age musicals." She feels that this story is "timeless," and it has such a place in today's world with the theme of family being so important. First, what really makes it different this time is the history and dedication by the cast. It takes multiple months of studying the time period with the help of the creative team and plenty of discussion about the time, the cast reading books about Jewish culture, and watching movies and other productions. The "new and fresh direction" and the way the original choreography has been remade has made it much more "naturalistic" than previous performances. Then couple the new direction with current political themes, like seeing people "forced out of a place they love," "learning to love and have unconditional love". The main message is to "overcome what we have to go through."
Kelly has a strong connection to her role of Tzeitel. She said, "I love the daughters, I love the relationship." As an aside, we started to dig into the dynamics of Tzeitel and how she is really the best of what Golde and Tevye are together. "Tzeitel is the power and the strength that she has learned from her mother, and I think she gets her motivation from learning Tevye's own strong will. She's not going to let somebody else pick who she's going to spend the rest of her life with."
On the other side of the curtain and after doing the show so many times, it can be a blur and some actors feel like they are just going through the motions, but Kelly has a bit of a different take. "When touring, the cast becomes your family. They see you at your best and at your worst." Her favorite scene also resonates with this theme: "During the wedding scene, there's just something about us all being on stage, and I really just have so much fun in that scene every night. It's stunning." After being an understudy for Tzeitel and being able to step into that role, she said "I love it [the show] more." "The relationships you create... it's a really, really beautiful experience to do this show over and over again with the same group of people in so many places. I honestly didn't know it would become so special."
To see this family come together on stage, Fiddler on the Roof will be at the Murat Theatre at the Old National Centre starting October 1st through October 6th.