WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD
Welcome to Anatevka .
Willoughby Theatre Company have brought us a magnificent production of this classic much loved musical . Directed by Andrew Beson , it was streamlined and most effectively staged , some parts of the show rather minimally , others with the various parts of the set that slid in/out/unfolded .
The cast was terrific (there are over 50 members of the ensemble) led superbly by Dennis Clements as Tevye.
While the show is now over half a century old the issues surrounding the story of a Jewish community in pre-revolutionary Russia are still vitally relevant today – the plight of refugees, enforced displacement and racism , and questioning one’s faith among others.
With its main character of Tevye the village milkman, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF asks why do innocent people suffer and depicts both the good and bad in life – we see how poverty and persecution (the rumours of pogroms, the intrusion and destruction at the wedding and all the people being driven from the village) are contrasted with love ( the weddings , Now I have everything ) and happiness.
New ideas as proposed by Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein are circulating and the world as Tevye knows it, overshadowed by chaos and war , is in turmoil and constantly changing. . Will Tevye and his family be able to adapt? Tevye is also shown as questioning his faith and being cold and implacable when he disowns his daughter Chava for marrying a gentile.
Act I , while rather long , incorporates some of the shows best-known songs including the exuberant Tradition, three of the daughter’s Matchmaker, the buoyant , show stopping If I Were a Rich Man and the haunting Sunrise, Sunset. In the shorter Act II the mood darkens noticeably as the community we have joined is unwillingly dispersed . Musically at times the show could be regarded as operatic, at other times perhaps liturgical (eg the beautiful celebration of the Sabbath prayer).
Step Edmonds choreography, based on that of Jerome Robbins , was tightly , crisply performed. It included circle dances, some Russian folk dance steps , traditional Jewish dances and social dances of the period and some showbiz/Broadway style moments.See if you can spot the allusions to West Side Story!
Dennis Clements as Tevye the milkman, who acts as our narrator and Everyman was fabulous , charismatic and captivating , performing with great delight . His inspired daydreaming If I Were A Rich Man stops the show. A leader of the community, he is an affectionate but rigorous husband and father, a humble yet honourable man embroiled in unexpected turmoil beyond his control. He also has a significant relationship with his God, talking to Him and at times questioning his (Tevye’s) faith.
As Tevye’s wife Golde Belinda Delaney was an impressive, respected tender matriarch delivering a strong performance and in terrific voice.
Their Do You Love Me in Act 2 was tender hesitant and delightful. , while The Dream in Act 1 with the rather terrifying Grandma Tzeitel looming and the ghost like ensemble was terrifically done.
Luke Holland was most engaging as Motel, the mild-mannered tailor who introduces a sewing machine to the village – then the latest in modern technology- and has the elated Miracle of Miracles to sing.
Imogen Abba (Tzeitel), Dylan Hayley (Hodel) and Mikaela Dane (Chava) as well as Katie McPherson (Shprintze) and Chloe McDonell (Bielke) gave impressive performances as the loving but determined to lead their own lives daughters and were thorough and eloquent throughout , with Hayley spirited and determined in Far From the Home I Love..The three would be suitors – Luke Holland (Motel), Matt Hourigan (Perchik), Aleksander Justin (Fyedka) – were all most effective in their roles and the chemistry between the various couples appeared convincing.. As the affluent village butcher Lazar Wolfe , who seeks a wife Clive Hobson was most distinguished.
Barbara Hannan’s matchmaker Yente was finely nuanced , we see how resilient she is . While she is generous and compassionate there is also a hidden . possibly cloudy side to her..
A most impressive version of this much loved musical now regarded as a classic.
Willoughby Theatre Company’s FIDDLER ON THE ROOF runs at The Concourse Chatswood October 18 – 27, 2019.