Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 17, 2014

Fiddler on the Roof

Goodspeed Musicals, East Haddam, CT
through September 12, 2014
by Walt Haggerty

(c) Diane Sobolewski
“Fiddler on the Roof,” a beloved treasure of the American musical theatre, is celebrating its 50th anniversary at the Goodspeed Opera House, flawlessly directed by Rob Ruggiero, with choreography recreated from Jerome Robbins’ original, by Parker Esse.

A story of traditions, some preserved, some broken, “Fiddler” is also a story of family love, of struggles and changes –told through an unforgettable score by composer Jerry Bock, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein.

From the opening strains of “Tradition” to the bittersweet rendering of the final notes of “Anatevka,” “Fiddler’s” melodies are instantly recognizable. Their delivery by this exceptionally talented company resonates with care and feeling throughout, culminating in a moving performance of “Sunrise, Sunset,” by the entire company.

Against a background of Russia in the early days of the 20th century, “Fiddler” focuses on the transition and difficulties faced by the family of Tevye, his wife, Golde, and their five daughters. Tevye, played with warmth and humor, by Adam Heller, is the master of his house, at least in his own mind. His wife, Golde, acted by Lori Wilner, runs the house with love masked by a sharp tongue.

The three daughters, played by Elizabeth DeRosa, Jan Brissman and Barrie Kreinik, each contribute distinctive performances reflecting their growing maturity and independent spirits, humorously displayed in “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.”

David Perlman’s Motel the tailor, and Abdiel Vivancos’ Perchick, a young revolutionary student, reflect the growing spirit of the young. Jan Brissman’s determined Chava, delivers a farewell to her family that is achingly touching. John Paynok’s Lazer Wolf and Cheryl Stearn’s Yente, provide welcome moments of laughter.

Moving moments abound, from Hodel’s farewell to Tevye, in “Far From the Home I Love,” and the duet of Tevye and Golde, when Tevye asks, almost pleadingly, “Do You Love Me?” Lighter moments include Tevye’s discussion with God, “If I Were A Rich Man,” and Motel’s “Miracle of Miracles.”

This “Fiddler” is indeed a memorable, not-to-be-missed production of a classic!