FIDDLER ON THE ROOF: Joseph Stien, Jerry R=Bock, Sheldon Harnick
Based on the SHOLEM ALEICHEM stories, Arnold Perl
Runs: 3h, one interval. On tour to 20 May 2014
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, Birmingham Hippodrome, 12 03 14
Splendid, Joyous, Humorous, Deeply Moving
This is an absolutely splendid production. To a man and a woman the characterisations are strong – tough and generously touched with humour. And a bonus – most characters play instruments too; music is imbedded into the performance with character and instrument cleverly matched. And the singing? – It has a gutsy earthiness about it – people who have their feet firmly on the ground.
The tale is of a group of Jewish people living in late 19th Century Ukraine; but times are changing. Social conventions are on the move, but so is racism (in this case anti-semitism). Russia is on the brink of political revolution. These are themes picked up by other writers around this time, around the world.
In FIDDLER they are encapsulated in the life of Tevye, the poor milkman, eager to see good marriages for his three elder daughters. Tevye believes in tradition (the opening song is TRADITION) but he must compromise as times, and his children’s attitudes, modernise. Old traditions may imprison, but with freedom comes danger. FIDDLER is no easy feel-good play, despite the great moments of exuberance it frequently breaks into; FIDDLER fills us with food for thought, there are no easy answers.
Paul Michael Glaser is superb as Trevye. He has a great gentleness and warmth in his performance. And he opens up his heart and his mind to us – we live with him through every moment. He eases into IF I WERE A RICH MAN with consummate skill – he presents, not one of the most famous songs from music theatre, but a simple man sharing simple thoughts.
The bright moments in the show are very bright, sung and played with gusto by this strong company, and given vigorous choreography by director and choreographer Craig Revel Horwood. The downbeat ending is all the more chilling therefore.
We may not leave the theatre singing a 10 o’clock song; but we do leave the theatre deeply moved.
Tevye: Paul Michael Glaser
Golde: Karen Mann
Tzeitel: Emily O’Keefe
Hodel: LIz Singeton
Chava: Claire Petzal
Yente: Liz Kitchen
Motel: Jon Trenchard
Perchik: Steven Bor
Lazar: Paul Kissaun
Mordocha: Eamon O’Dwyer
Rabbi: Neil Salvage
Mendel: Michael Paver
Avram: Tarek Merchant
Ruman-Sarah: Susannah Van Den Berg
Fyedka: Daniel Bolton
Sacha: Jeff Smyth
The Fiddler: Jennifer Douglas
Swing/Dance Captain: Matthew James Hinchliffe
Swing: Lilly Howard
Bielke: Maddison Oakley, Katie Vaissiere
Shprintze: Amara McCracken, Neve Taylor
Director ad Choreographer`: Craig Revel Horwood
Orchestrator and Musical Director: Sarah Travis
Set and Costume Designer: Diego Pitarch
Lighting Designer: Richard G Jones
Sound Designer: Richard Brooker
Associate Sound: Tom Marshall
Assistant Director and Assistant choreographer: David J Huston
Associate Musical Director: Tarek Merchant
Casting: Anne Vosser