Front Row Center – March 2018

Front Row Center

By Michael Warren

Fiddler on the Roof
Based on stories by Sholem Aleichem
Directed by Dave McIntosh


front rowThis is a musical with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein, set in the Pale of Settlement of Imperial Russia in 1905. The original Broadway production of the show, which opened in 1964, had the first musical theater run in history to surpass 3,000 performances. The story centers on “Tevye,” the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his cultural Jewish traditions against the growing trends of outside influences. His daughters wish to marry for love, and in a break with tradition they ask for his blessing, but not for his permission.

Dave McIntosh and his team succeeded magnificently in bringing this show to the LLT stage. It was quite a challenge. There’s a cast of thirteen major characters, plus fourteen other villagers and six Russians, and a fiddler and a small orchestra on stage. Somehow it all ran without a hitch – the choreography, the music, the scene changes, the lighting effects – it was a truly professional show.

Tevye the dairyman is played with great style and vigor by Patrick DuMouchel. He is on stage for almost the entire show, and really enjoys his role. Patrick’s rendering of the song “If I Were a Rich Man” is one of the highlights of Act One. I don’t have space to name the entire cast, though I should mention special performances by Helena Feldstein as Tevya’s wife “Golde” and Zane Pumiglia as “Lazar Wolf” the butcher. Carol Kaufman was very entertaining as “Yente” the ever-scheming matchmaker.

Tevya’s five daughters were sweetly played by Genesis Dutro, Trinity Dutro, Olivia Reeser, Katie Hartup and Zion Dutro. And of course we had a fiddler on the roof. Daniel Medeles opens the show with a virtuoso solo, and also plays sadly at the end as the villagers are forced to leave their home by order of the Tsar.

The Music Direction was by Ann Swiston, and the orchestra players were Judy Hendrick, Daniel Medeles, Jorge Verdin, Eleazar Soto and Gilberto Rios. The musical numbers and dances were well performed and integrated into the story, with Choreography by Flemming Halby and Alexis Hoff. One small quibble – with all the sound and action it was difficult to make out the words of many of the songs. Overall, I enjoyed the show and there were some clever touches. The set design by Ruth Kear was ingenious and effective with rotating flats making scene changes extremely slick. At the railway station the sign was in Cyrillic lettering. Very clever!

Congratulations to Dave McIntosh and the entire team for a once-in-a-lifetime effort. Win McIntosh was Stage Manager and Bruce Linnen was her Assistant. The show was a tremendous success with every performance (including the preview) sold out. I was lucky to get a seat! Season 53 is almost over – the final play of the season is a whimsical romantic comedy The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl, which opens on March 23.

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