At last night’s show of Fiddler on the Roof, the average age of the audience was significantly higher than any of the other shows Bwog has attended in the past. Producer Jonathan Jager shared that many families purchased blocks of 10 tickets to the show, explaining the surprising lack of college students. Among the few college students present, however, was Bwog’s very own Sean Zimmermann. Here, his review.
The Columbia Musical Theatre Society’s performance of Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Rebecca Victor, is spectacular. The cast, the costumes, the lighting the music — all is of an unusually high caliber. Perhaps most impressive is the quality of the acting, which at last night’s performance was on peak and at a very professional level for a college production.
There are a few actors whose performances deserve special note. Tevye, portrayed by Eric Lawrence, spoke with a thick accent which perfectly fit his role; his character’s monologues, during which all other characters would freeze, were well-executed — as were the freezes themselves, which gave the monologues an almost dreamlike quality. Other members of Tevye’s family, such as his wife Golde (Kathryn Maslak) and his three eldest daughters Tzeitel (Becky Greenstein), Hodel (Rivka Friedlander), and Chava (Emily Buttner) were portrayed very believably, as were the young student Perchik (Michael Seaman) and the poor tailor Motel Kamzoil (Josh Warshawsky). Some of the actors in smaller roles also stood out: Elizabeth Varner deserves praise for her hilarious portrayal of the matchmaker Yente, as does Tyler Benedict for his almost-sympathetic portrayal of the town Constable, Ben Bardin for his elderly Rabbi, and Bethanie Mangigian for her screeching ghost of Fruma-Sarah.
Interactions between characters, especially between Tevye and his daughters, were strong as well. In one scene, father Tevye bids goodbye to Hodel, his daughter, who is leaving their small town to go to her husband, the idealistic Perchik, who has been arrested and taken to Siberia. Both Rivka’s song, “Far From the Home I Love” and Tevye’s prayer after she leaves, “look after her, and see that she dresses warm,” were deeply moving.
The cast’s musical numbers were very professional, but the pit band, which was placed on the minimalist stage behind the actors, is worthy of extra accolades. Not only was the music throughout the entire show excellent, but the conductor, Elizabeth Laberge, fell ill during the show to be replaced mid-act by trumpet player Paul Lerner, who took over without missing a beat. Another musician who figuratively took center stage was violinist Suzanne Davies, who plays for Tevye twice through the show.
This reviewer has one grievance: the degree of commitment to accents within the show was very inconsistent and jarring at times. Though Eric Lawrence’s heavy accent for Tevye made his character much better on a whole, it became very noticeable when he would sing with other members of the cast, who were not singing in the same accents. Other than this small but noticeable dissonance, however, the show was excellent from start to finish and I would thoroughly recommend that more college students (and not just family members) show up for tonight’s performance
Tickets for tonight’s 8:00 show at Roone are available at the TIC. Tickets are $5 with CUID, $10 for general admission, and $25 for VIP seating.