Edinburgh Guide Fiddler on the Roof, King's Theatre, Review ****by Gordon Clayton
Venue: King's Theatre
Production: Andy Johnston(Director), Peter Robinson (Musical Director), Rhian Reynolds (Choreographer)
Performers: Lech Boron (Tevye), Laura Jordan Reed (Golde), Julie Howie (Tzeitel), Elaine Graham (Hodel), Christina Kirkaldie (Chava), Alan Gow (Motel), Michael Scott (Perchik), Jamie Morrison (Fyedka), Dorothy Johnstone (Yente)
Running time: 170mins
Southern Light Opera Company is an amateur group that like this show ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ has its own long traditions. In this case the show blends memorable songs, humorous dialogue and great choreography keeping the tradition of delivering high quality musical productions. The cast spans the generations and form a very credible small rural Jewish community.
Set in 1905, in Russia before the communist revolution, the jewish villagers face a daily threat to their existence from the authorities. Fiddler On The Roof taps rich social themes of the period, with arranged marriages, marrying outwith the faith, superstition, obeying your elders and the persecution of the Jewish community, to name a few. The original Broadway show opened in 1964, and the setting is at the beginning of the 20th Century, so by necessity the pace of he show is gentle in comparison with contemporary works.
Central to the storyline is Tevye (Lech Boron) a poor milkman with five daughters who is the patriarch of his family and an elder of the community. The attempt to match his daughters with husbands is the main storyline.
Lech is an impressive Tevye particularly when he becomes more expansive as the plot unfolds. On your own with only God to talk to in big theatre is a challenge, but he covers being authorative, submissive, and funny with great skill allied to a good stage presence and great singing voice.
Although the lead is key to the success of the show this production is far from a one man show. Golde (Laura Jordan Reed) is just right as the wife who really rules the roost. The dream sequence with the appearance of some scary ghosts is really well directed and the lighting adds to making this a highlight of the show.
The three eldest daughters find their own partners much to disgust of the superb Dorothy Johnstone playing Yente the matchmaker. Tzeitel (Julie Howie) is first up to defying her father by choosing Motel, the impoverished tailor over the much older and richer Lazar Wolf, the butcher. All these characters are well played but special mention to Alan Gow as Motel for capturing the gangly, nervous and naïve young suitor.
The radical student Percik (Michael Scott) as an incomer stirs the traditions of the wedding scene as he develops a relationship with Hodel (Elaine Graham) leading to another challenge to Tevye’s authority. The wedding scene is a good example of the director and choreographer working well together with interest always maintained in the scene culminating in the ‘bottle’ dance.
The straw that nearly breaks Tevye’s back is when bookish Chava (Christina Kirkaldie) falls for Fyedka (Jamie Morrison) part of the Russian law enforcement in the area.There are a number of great songs in ‘Fiddler’ too many to mention but they are delivered with feeling and the ‘Do you love me’ sums up the confusion in Tevye’s mind as times change.
One of the notable features of the production is that the supporting cast are always busy adding to the credibility of the piece.
The use of the scenes behind the gauze are good examples of the thoughtful direction that culminates in an ending that leaves you with a message that still troubles people to-day. The music is good throughout with a mention to Donald Taylor who was that ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.