BWW Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Showcases Resiliency in Pittsburgh
Less than a month after the synagogue tragedy that shocked the world, a different congregation gathers to celebrate the traditions of Judaism in a space filled with tender hearts and welcoming arms. As the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof makes its way across the country, its stop at the Benedum Center this week is a cathartic breath of fresh air for a community still coming to terms with an atrocious act of hate.
Fiddler on the Roof tells the story of Tevye (Yehezkel Lazarov) and his family in their town of Anatevka. With three of his five daughters eligible for marriage, Tevye faces the challenge of changing times: on one hand, the matchmaker always arranges marriages; on the other hand, his daughters are becoming progressive women in a changing society who desire love and free will.
With many twists and turns along the way, with influencers coming from all angles, Fiddler on the Roof is not only a well-written show, but also a well thought out show.
In addition to the story, the dancing in this production is quite simply beautiful. A mix between traditional and modern, the choreography of Hofesh Shechter is energetically captivating, making you not want to blink anytime a dance breaks out. It is no surprise that his choreography garnered him a Tony Nomination, and it still makes me yearn for a dancing encore.
The costumes of the cast also accentuate the dancing, but the sets of the show were definitely not where the money was spent. Instead, and arguably more importantly, the show is casted wonderfully.
Mr. Lazarov is a natural in the leading role. He guides the arc of the story with style and always ends up offering a warm, paternal embrace to his daughters and his audience. His charisma also ushers comedy and well timed punch lines in his dialogue and asides.
Fiddler on the Roof's humor and wit has translated handsomely over the years, especially with the aid of skillful actors; its lighthearted jokes poke fun at everything from the religion to family, and these short one-liners are necessary to get through some of the heavier content.
Fairly early on in the show, it becomes clear that tensions are mounting in Imperial Russia. The Tsar begins targeting the Jewish people; their peaceful way of life is disrupted by violence and suppression. No longer is their biggest disagreement over whether someone traded someone else a mule or a horse - or - in Tevye's case, whether his daughters should be able to decide marriage for themselves.
With a new wave of challenges facing them, the Jewish people of Anatevka exemplify the resiliency that has accompanied the Jewish people for millennia, and continues accompanying them in any land and time. A mostly peaceful people, the villages demonstrate the very best of their nonviolent side.
Fiddler on the Roof is a show of progressivism and activism mixed with traditionalism and resiliency. Its resonance with the present day is striking and unfortunate, but this celebration of Jewish culture at a time of healing and solidarity is exactly what the community needs and what it receives with Fiddler on the Roof.
To see of not to see score: 7/9; Recommended Show
Photo Credit: Madigan Greiner