Fiddler on the Roof is back in town, unfortunately only a shadow of its former self. Care needs to be given to frequently revived shows. It must be tempting to rely on the time-honored appeal of a show and just plop it on the stage, but in the case of this production, that is simply not enough. The current CLO production includes a talented cast, but the sets, costumes and direction contribute to an overall lackluster presentation.
The classic song "Tradition" illustrates the central theme of this story (book by Joseph Stein) of dairy farmer Tevye and his family, living in poverty-stricken Antevka in Tsarist Russia. As each of Tevye's three eldest daughters finds a man she wishes to marry, Tevye's beliefs and faith are tested. Tevye and his wife Golde are willing to change with the times to a certain extent, but even though they are more accepting than many in their environment, they reach a limit.
Heading the cast of this production is Lenny Wolpe as Tevye. A veteran of 15 CLO productions (not to mention Off Broadway, TV and film work), Wolpe brings a depth of experience to the role. He brings a wonderful voice as well, something not every Tevye has. Wolpe is charming, funny, and does justice to the beautiful Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick songs he sings in this show. As well cast as Wolpe is, his Golde, Adrienne Barbeau, is woefully miscast. Too petite, too soft, too weak - Barbeau simply cannot pull of the role of the hardworking, strong matriarch Golde. Though her singing voice is pleasant on "Sunrise, Sunset," Barbeau has less success with the other songs.
The three marrying daughters are well portrayed. Stephanie Block is a winning Tzeitel, both with her acting and her singing. Kim Huber (Hodel) has such a beautiful voice, both when speaking and especially when singing, it's always a pleasure to listen to her. Courtney Laine Mazza steps out of the ensemble this summer to play Chava and she is good - I look forward to seeing more of her this season.
Zachary Halley is another veteran CLO ensemble member who is featured as Fyedka, the gentile Russian Chava wants to marry. Despite the shocking blond wig, Halley is superb in the small bit of solo singing he gets to do, and he has very good stage presence.
This production as a whole lacks energy and, with bare minimum sets, uninspired choreography, and unremarkable costuming (not to mention some really poor false beards), is not up to par with the quality treatment shows usually get at the CLO.
Next up for the CLO is George M. For tickets and schedule see www.pittsburghCLO.org