BWW Review: Pioneer Theatre Company's FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is Meaningful and Exultant

The story and themes of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF are especially resonant in Pioneer Theatre Company's new production thanks to solid, heartfelt direction.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (based on the Sholem Aleichem stories by special permission of Arnold Perl, book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) is a classic musical that needs no introduction. With many well-known songs that are pervasive in popular culture, this story of Tevye and his Jewish community transcends boundaries with its universal themes of intolerance and familial love and especially resonates with Utah's past.

Tevye's expectations of life are entrenched in tradition, including the pairing of his three daughters with suitable husbands by a matchmaker. But when fate leads them to make their own matches, it is only the beginning of the changes in store.

Director/choreographer Karen Azenberg has created a fluidly, meaningfully staged production. The humor and pathos that alternate throughout the strong script are like pockets of light and shadow that are highlighted and accentuated by the equally strong direction. "Matchmaker" and "Chava Sequence" are particularly contrasting musical numbers, but both are staged flawlessly.

"The Dream" delightfully combines this superb musical staging with eye-popping design from scenic designer George Maxwell and costume designer Carol Wells-Day (who do wonderful work throughout) to create an unforgettable sequence with vitality and panache.

Azenberg's choreography feels authentic to the setting but is crisply executed in an exultant musical theatre style, making "To Life" and "Sunrise, Sunset" two of the most exhilarating and memorable portions of the production.

The contributions of the impeccable 10-piece orchestra, led by musical director Helen Gregory, should also be commended.

Michael Thomas Holmes is endearingly droll and appropriately charismatic in the leading role of Tevye. Tia Speros as his wife Golde is every bit his match, as are the spirited actresses playing their daughters--Kim Sava as Tzeitel, Nadia Vynnytsky as Hodel, and Mandy McDonell as Chava. Their suitors are played winningly by Ravi Roth as Motel, Wilson Bridges as Perchik, and Matt Farcher as Fyedka.

Eleanor Reissa deserves special recognition for her authentic portrayal of matchmaker Yente, as does young actor-musician Zachary Brown for his impressive performance as the Fiddler.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF plays through October 3, 2015. For tickets, call the box office at 801-581-6961 or visit

Photo Credit: Michael Thomas Holmes (Tevye). Photo by Alexander Weisman.

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From This Author Tyler Hinton