Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at The Fisher Theatre

This production runs through October 16th

By: Oct. 14, 2022
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Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at The Fisher Theatre

Fiddler on the Roof returns to The Fisher Theatre nearly 60 years after opening the production for previews in Detroit in 1964. This beloved Broadway classic from Tony-Winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer-Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick is a revival of the 1964 award-winning musical.

This show explores tradition, star-crossed lovers, and opposing political and religious communities set in Russia in the early 1900s. Fiddler on the Roof will be performing at The Fisher Theatre through October 16th.

Fiddler on the Roof opens its curtain set in a small community of Jewish families struggling to make ends meet in Imperial Russia.

The protagonist, Tevye, is a poor dairy farmer blessed with a wife and five daughters. Tevye emotes his dream of being a wealthy man as he sings the crowd favorite "If I Were a Rich Man" and fantasizes about how much easier life would be if he had money and didn't have to work so diligently every day. As the audience meets Tevye's daughters, it seems that each of the five has very different personalities and goals.

As the show progresses, we see some of his daughters find love, much to Tevye's chagrin. Tevye believes all his daughters should value their faith and tradition over falling in love, but in this new turn-of-the-century moment in time, we see the women taking the reins on who they wish to marry and not waiting for their father's permission.

This reviewer agrees that begging for forgiveness is always better than asking for permission. I have to admit that going into this performance, I did not know much about this show, but after leaving the theater, I couldn't wait to listen to the soundtrack.

The humor brought forth by this cast was a delightful surprise. Jonathan Hashmonay(Tevye) and Mary Beth Webber (Yente) gave the audience great comic relief throughout the show. The standout performances, in my opinion, were from Graceann Kontak (Hodel) and Austin J. Gresham (Perchik). Their chemistry during "Now I Have Everything" was palpable. I truly felt like I was watching a love story unfold before me. The duo made me wish there was a sequel musical about their life together battling injustice and prejudice throughout Europe and Asia.

Another moment of note was during "Sunrise, Sunset." This song (a personal favorite of mine as it was my parents' wedding song) made me quite emotional. Not just from the familial bond but the perfect harmony from the entire cast. The music starts as a duet between Jonathan Hashmonay(Tevye) and Maite Uzal (Golde); as the song progresses, the whole company comes together in a magical musical number that has stood the test of time. Hashmonay and Uzal lead the cast as the patriarch and matriarch, respectively. The two transform into the stereotypical "old married couple," but they execute their role in a unique performance, bringing new life to these classic characters.

I would be remiss not to mention the remarkable company of this show. The principal characters may be the face of the production, but the ensemble is the heart of any memorial musical. The dance numbers choreographed by Hofesh Shechter added to the cultural experience as he added traditional elements from the Jewish faith. The male cast entranced the audience during the bar scene and the bottle dancing in the wedding scene. I especially appreciated using the Fiddler throughout the show to distract from scene changes.

The Fiddler was the perfect way of keeping the show's theme consistent throughout the performance. We see the Fiddler in many different ways and use the entirety of the stage to guide the audience to various places on stage throughout the show. The Fiddler symbolizes the community trying to survive, as Tevye says at the show's beginning, "A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck."

The Fiddler also represents the traditions that Tevye sings about all through the show. These are the traditions that Tevye is trying to keep constant in his family. This robust performance teaches us what it takes to survive and how strong faith and tradition can be to any community.




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