Tradition reigns supreme in Fiddler on the Roof. Orpheus Theatre brings the 50th Anniversary of this ambitious musical to life.
Should you see it?
Mounting a production of Fiddler on the Roof is no easy task, mainly due to the fact that the cast is huge and there is a lot of content to cover. Fiddler on the Roof is one of my favourite musicals, if done correctly; however, it can very easily lose its edge if too many liberties are taken.
Following Tevya, a poor man with five daughters, in the Jewish village of Anatevka, Fiddler on the Roof is not really about any specific fiddler on any specific roof, but the notion that without something as important as tradition one’s life could be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof. Yet Tevya’s concept of tradition is challenged as each of his five daughter’s find ways to challenge the tradition of the time. Fiddler on the Roof is a play of social and political commentaries disguised as a series of love stories.
Orpheus did more right than wrong in its presentation of Fiddler on the Roof, especially in the casting department. Christopher Mallory was the perfect Tevya; he commanded the stage and held the show together. Most of the acting was good, while Mallory was brilliant, Joyanne Rudiak as one of Tevya’s daughter’s, Hodel, was also amazing. There were a few miscasts, which became evident vocal pitch issues and the female vocalists were definitely stronger and more in key than many of the males.
As the story of Fiddler on the Roof plays out it is an enjoyable time. The cast hits most of their marks, the humour is present and the choreography was in tune and in synch. What left me wanting more was the wedding scene (Act 1, Scene 9). This is an extremely long scene which carries most of the dramatic punch from the first act and also has most of the cast on stage for the entirety of it. It’s the climax of Act 1, and is probably the hardest scene to put together, and let’s just say that overall it was only a little bit less than a train wreck.
Perhaps it was just some opening night jitters that will be worked out by the end of the run, however, it did take a little while for the production to pull me back in after Act 2 started, which the great cast was able to do and take us into the emotional, yet strong, ending that this show deserves. One thing to note when heading into Fiddler on the Roof is its length. The play runs nearly three hours, with intermission, and it definitely does feel like three hours by the end of the show.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. How important is tradition to you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!