Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Olney Theatre Center

Olney's new twist on a timeless classic is a must see!

By: Nov. 21, 2023
Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Olney Theatre Center

Olney Theatre Center's production of the beloved Fiddler on the Roof is a clever and delightfully reimagined  production that is sure to be a hit with families this holiday season.

Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Olney Theatre Center
The ensemble of "Fiddler on the Roof" at
Olney Theatre Center.
Photo: Teresa Castracane Photography

Director Peter Flynn has created an intriguing new opening for the show, with the initial action and opening number taking place in an Ellis Island-esque immigration processing facility. Tevye (Howard Kaye) is telling his fellow immigrants about the life his family has left behind, and the unique staging gives "Tradition" a whole new life and meaning. As the song ends, Scenic Designer Milagros Ponce de León's intricate set transforms into the village of Anatevka, and the show essentially becomes a flashback, until the citizens of Anatevka are scattered to the four corners of the globe. Flynn's fresh approach to the show puts the entire story in a new perspective, but it still retains all the warmth and charm that audiences expect from a production of Fiddler.

Any production of Fiddler starts and ends with the actor playing Tevye, and Kaye acquits himself well in the role. His character choices are a bit less somber and serious than some the iconic actors who have played the role, and his conversational asides with God are more lighthearted. There's an everyman quality and a light touch to his Tevye (perhaps foreshadowing the immigrant he will become), and it's a fitting choice, given the state of the world today.

Review: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Olney Theatre Center
Dylan Arredondo, Robert Mintz, Graciela Rey,
and Ariel Messeca in "Fiddler on the Roof"
at Olney Theatre Center.
Photo: Teresa Castracane Photography

The cast is uniformly excellent, with standout performances from Rachel Stern (Golde), Sophie Shulman (Tzeitel), Sumié Yotsukura (Hodel), Michael Wood (Motel), and Noah Keyishian (Perchik). Graciela Rey imbues the Fiddler with a flowing, balletic grace that captivates the audience every time she is on stage - she glides, leaps and spins, floating and interweaving among the rest of the ensemble beautifully, and she ties the shifting storylines together seamlessly. Flynn and Choreographer Lorna Ventura use her to great effect. Ventura's dance numbers are lovely to behold, and they compliment the work of Music Director Christopher Youstra perfectly.

This show has everything you want in a holiday performance - a timeless story, and songs that everyone knows by heart, delivered flawlessly by a cast of accomplished, talented actors. Olney notes that if it were a movie, this show would be "G" rated, and it's an ideal show for introducing young children to the magic of live theatre. The folks at Olney have certainly created magic with this production.

Fiddler on the Roof runs through December 31st. Running time is approximately 2:20, with a 15 minute intermission. For more information about Olney Theatre Center, click here.




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