Thursday, 31 March 2016

Fiddler on The Roof

Overall this is splendid production with a huge cast . While Fiddler on the Roof is now over 50 years old and its story set in a Jewish community in pre-revolutionary Russia , its issues of refugees , racism and displacement still resoundingly resonate.
While there is a joyous side to the show ( eg the weddings , Now I Have Everything) and it is a celebration of love and family there is also quite a dark ominous side with the rumours of pogroms, the interruption and destruction of the wedding and all the people being driven from the village . Tevye is also shown as questioning his faith and being cold and implacable when he disowns his daughter Chava for marrying a gentile .
Directed here by Roger Hodgman, a long Act I contains some of the shows best-known songs including the exuberant Tradition, three of  the  daughter’s Matchmaker,  the show stopping If I Were a Rich Man and the haunting Sunrise, Sunset. In the shorter Act II the mood darkens noticeably and the community we have joined is unwillingly dispersed . Musically at times the show is operatic , at other times liturgical ( eg the beautiful celebration of the Sabbath prayer) and there are also perhaps hints of Sondheim ( listen to Anatevka) .
The choreography was spectacular, highly refined and polished and exuberantly performed.  It contained circle dances , Russian folk dance steps , traditional Jewish dances, social dances of the period and modern dance in the style of Martha Graham and Agnes de Mille.( with touches of Jerome Robbins and other showbiz musicals ) .  Ballet is included in Little Bird .
The orchestra under the musical direction of Kellie Dickerson sparkles and plays exuberantly.
The fluid, flexible set design by Richard Roberts is in neutral colours , reminiscent perhaps of  a wooden jigsaw puzzle , with moveable section s that slide in and out and can be turned around for various locales. Paul Jackson‘s lighting was magic.
Anthony Warlow as Tevye the milkman , who acts as Everyman and narrator , is in top form and terrific voice , performing with enormous relish. His deliciously daydreaming If I Were A Rich Man stops the show. A leader of the community he is a kind but strict husband and father, a humble yet honourable man caught up in enforced changes beyond his control. He also has a special relationship with his God.
As Tevye's wife Golde Sigrid Thornton was a splendid matriarch but perhaps her rather delicate singing voice counters the strength of character she otherwise displays.
Singer-songwriter Lior was enchanting as Motel, the mild-mannered tailor who has the delighted Miracle of Miracles to sing gloriously .
Teagan Wouters (Tzeitel), Monica Swayne (Hodel) and Jessica Vickers (Chava) were splendid  throughout, enormously supportive, with Swayne strongly vibrant in Far From the Home I Love.
Mark Mitchell as the prosperous town butcher Lazar Wolf seeking to make a perfect match was  terrific.
A most exciting production that still reverberates today .
Running time  - just under three hours ( approx.) including one interval
Fiddler on the Roof runs at the Capitol Theatre March 29 – May 8 2016
Music: Jerry Brock
Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick
Book: Joseph Stein
Director: Roger Hodgman
Cast: Blake Bowden, Sara Grenfell, Glen Hogstrom, Andrew Kroenert, Lior, Mark Mitchell, Jensen Overend, Anthony Pepe, Annie Stanford, Monica Swayne, Derek Taylor, Sigrid Thornton, Jessica Vickers, Anthony Warlow, Nicki Wendt, David Whitney, Teigan Wouters