BWW Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Paramount Theatre Brings Heart and Humor in a Winning Combination.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Paramount Theatre brings heart and humor in a winning combination. With soaring music, reinvented choreography, and its timeless story, FIDDLER provides the elements we have always loved with a freshness that makes us love it more. Bartlett Sher's production has cemented the show in the hearts of a new generation ensuring that people's affection for it will continue for many years to come.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is the story of Tevye, a simple milkman in a small Jewish shtetl in prerevolutionary Russia. Tevye enlists the help of a matchmaker in order to find advantageous marriages for his five daughters. While scraping together a living for his family, he also struggles to maintain the traditions of their faith and community as external forces of a modern world threaten to force changes.
Teyve is without a doubt the heart and soul of this show. He is deeply rooted in tradition and revels in his role as Papa and head of the house. Yet when confronted with the potential loss of his daughters, he always chooses those he loves over the tenets that have previously guided his life. His daughters have a new view of what marriage can and should be. In observing the obvious love they have for their chosen partners, he is confronted with the question of what affection there can be in his own marriage. In finally valuing the modern requisite of love, he asks his wife Golde, "but do you love me?" in one of the most touching moments of the show. While she admits that she has grown to love him, she quickly moves the show out of the sentimental moment and back into the usual humorous and sharp exchanges that are the norm of their relationship. In a time where tradition names him the unquestioned head of his family and the world views him as a second-class citizen, Tevye must navigate all that the world tosses at his family.
Yehezkel Lazarov's portrayal of Tevye carries the show, even transports it to a new level. His charm, comedic timing, and loud demeanor underscored with a thinly veiled tenderness make for a fully complex and utterly lovable character. His conversations with God and asides to the audience underscore the weight he carries and how humor is his best and often only coping mechanism. Lazarov commands the stage from start to finish, providing the foundation for the rest of the cast. His performance has set a new bar for all future Tevyes.
The reviving a show with a long and successful track record such as FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is a monumental task. Just as the show itself deals with the push and pull of tradition versus modernism, the new production must find the correct balance as well. The perfect example of this balance is found in the updated choreography of Hofesh Shechter. He gives a heavy nod to the original choreography of Jermone Robbins incorporating many of his elements while also elevating dances with some modern flair. He is aided in his work by Costume Designer Catherine Zuber. Her long tailcoats are put to good use in the twirling and swirling movements by Shechter. Together they create a visual piece of art that leaves you wishing for a rewind button in order to experience it again.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF had in many ways passed its glory days, becoming a little tired, a little overdone, and often lackluster. This new production on tour revives the heart of the show and brings new energy to this timeless tale. In an age when state-sanctioned pogroms have ended but anti-Semitism continues, the story is more important than ever. Tevye reminds us all that the true power of tradition is the ability to adapt, to preserve, and always to carry on. FIDDLER ON THE ROOF carries this message to new generations and delivers it with style.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is playing at the Paramount Theatre now through January 19th. For tickets of more information, visit www.stgpresents.org.Yehezkel Lazarov, Jonathan Von Mering, and the Cast of Fiddler on the
Roof at Paramount Theatre. Photo by Joan Marcus