Fiddler on the Roof
Written by Joseph Stein (book), Jerry Bock (music)
Oy, such a mekhaye!
|Paramount Theatre presents|
|Fiddler on the Roof|
Review by Leah Zeldes
Mekhaye, in Yiddish, means something that gives zest to life, a very great pleasure, and Paramount Theatre’s production of Fiddler on the Roof qualifies on all counts.
To begin with, of course, Fiddler is one of the greatest musicals of all time. The musical story of Tevye the milkman and his daughters in Tsarist Russia has memorable songs, a moving story and, despite its Jewish theme, universal appeal. The first Broadway musical ever to run more than 3,000 performances, from 1964 through 1972, the original production won nine Tony Awards.
Paramount’s revival adds in delightful dancing and staging, a fine cast and terrific scenic design.
Gordon Pierce Schmidt‘s choreography, though appropriately influenced by the Broadway work of Jerome Robbins, goes on terrifically from there. The dancers are marvelous. (A mild quibble is that men and women dance together during the opening number, "Tradition," which, as subsequent action explains, is not at all the tradition. But it’s a grand dance sequence all the same.)
As Tevye, David Girolmo (standing in for Peter Kevoian, who will play the role after March 13), has fabulous moves, embodying his character’s religious and philosophical thoughts with every motion. I’ve never seen "If I Were a Rich Man" done better, not even by Zero Mostel or Topol. It can’t be easy to convey emotion with a full beard covering your face, but Girolmo does it clearly. (Girolmo will go back to playing Lazar Wolf the butcher when Kevonian returns. Meanwhile, that role is ably played by Matthew R. Jones.) Iris Lieberman creates a fitting counterpart as Tevye’s long-suffering wife, Golde. And Renee Matthews makes a perfect Yente the matchmaker.
Skyler Adams, as Motel the tailor, also gives a great physical performance, growing almost visibly from quaking youth to proud bridegroom, as well as performing a most joyous rendition of "Miracle of Miracles." As Tevye’s daughter Hodel, Jazmin Gorsline sings a stirring version of "Far From the Home I Love."
All the familiar numbers are winners in this show — "Sabbath Prayer," "Matchmaker," "Sunrise, Sunset" — even though none of the singers, by themselves, seems an especially notable voice. Yet it all adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Music Director Michael Keefe and a high-powered orchestra figure into the equation as well. The Fiddler is depicted by a classical violinist, Mark Agnor, who actually plays his instrument onstage, a lovely accent.
Scenic Designer Kevin Depinet and Lighting Designer Jesse Klug have worked together to create a magical set, a deceptively simple timbered outline of a town on which a display of colored lights sets tone and mood.
Everything pleases about this production, which runs only through March 24, so gather up your bubbe and zayde and hurry out to Aurora.
Fiddler on the Roof continues through March 24th at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena (map), with performances Wednesdays at 1:30pm & 7:30pm, Thursdays 7:30pm, Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 4pm & 8pm, Sundays 1pm & 5pm. Tickets are $35-$47, and are available by phone (630-896-6666) or online through Vendini.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at ParamountAurora.com. (Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes, includes an intermission)
Photos by Liz Lauren
Mark Agnor, David Girolmo, Peter Kevoian, Iris Lieberman, Kelley Abell, Jazmin Gorsline, Brooke Singer, Jennifer Baker, Julia Baker, Renee Matthews. Skyler Adams, Jim DeSelm, Matthew R. Jones, Benjamin Magnuson, Fredric Stone, David Sajewich, Nicholas Foster, Ian Paul Custer, Sarah Bockel, Hannah Corneau, Richard Marlatt, Brandon Moorhead, Jake Klinkhammer, Christine Mild, Britt Banaszynski, Jeremy Duvall, Todd Rhoades, Jaclyn Dougherty, Harmony France, Alex Heika, Ethan J. Isaacson, Christopher Logan, Glenn M. Snellgrose II, Lauren Villegas, Jake Ziman.
Michael Keefe (conductor); Mark Agnor (fiddler); Edward Vodicka (accordian, celeste); Katherine Hughes, Jeff Yang, Debra Mose (violin); Loretta Gillespie (viola); Margaret Daly (cello); Daniel Anderson (bass, tuba); Scott Reed (guitar, lute, mandolin); Susan Saylor (flute, piccolo); Peter Ballin (clarinet); Wagner Campos (bass clarinet, clarinet); Peter Brusen (bassoon); Amy Barwan (oboe, French horn); Larry Bowen, Doug Scharf (trumpet); Edgar Campos (trumpet); Scott Bentall (trombone); George Blanchet (percussion).
behind the scenes
Jim Corti (director); Michael Keefe (music director); Gordon Pierce Schmidt (choreographer); Kevin Depinet (scenic designer); Jesse Klug (lighting designer); Melissa Torchia (costume designer); Mike Tutaj (projections designer); Adam Rosenthal (sound designer); Sarah E. Ross (properties designer); Coral Gable (wig master); Christine Conley (wig master); Rose Marie Packer (stage manager); Kaylee Oost (child supervisor); Matthew McMullen (assistant stage manager); Jeff Kmiec (assistant scenic designer); Greg Hofmann (assistant lighting designer); Tiago Velho (assistant sound designer); Jason Pikscher (scene shop manager); Liz Lauren (photos).