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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof
Marc Streeter and Debbie Goldberg
The Lake Worth Playhouse recently presented Fiddler On The Roof.  This classic tale of the small town (shtetl) of Anatevka, on the eve of the 1905 Russian Revolutionary period, is based on Sholom Aleichem's stories by special permission of Arnold Perl.  With a book written by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, the musical originally opened on Broadway on September 22, 1964.  It went on to win nine Tony Awards, and later was adapted by Norman Jewison into a successful film in 1971.

Originally entitled Tevye, the musical is based on Aleichem's Tevye And His Daughters or Tevye The Milkman.  The title of the musical is derived from a surrealistic painting by Marc Chagall depicting Eastern European Jewish life.  The fiddler is a symbol of survival through tradition and joyfulness. And the musical is a story of that journey as experienced by a family headed by a milkman named Tevye.

Tevye struggles with the day to day existence of supporting his wife and five daughters.  As he finds his way through a life amidst impending great change all around him, he talks with God daily seeking advice.  He compares life in Anatevka with being a "fiddler on the roof" trying to scratch out a simple, pleasant tune without breaking his neck.  He asks "How do we keep our balance?" and answers "That I can tell you in one word - tradition!"  But Tevye's sense of tradition is about to be challenged by what God has in store for him.

Tevye's eldest daughter, Tzeitel, defies tradition by choosing to marry Motel the tailor, rather than the butcher Lazar Wolf selected for her by the matchmaker, Yente.  Young people choosing to marry for love rather than allowing elders to arrange their marriage for them prompts Tevye to ask his wife Golde in song "Do You Love Me?" They agree that they do love one another, and consent to Tzeitel marrying Motel.

Tevye provides room and board to a young student from Kiev named Perchik in exchange for him tutoring his five daughters.   Perchik becomes irate when the marriage celebration between Motel and Tzeitel is ransacked by Russian soldiers as part of a demonstration meant to foreshadow the pogrom ahead.  He decides to go back to Kiev to be a part of the revolution against the Tsar of Russia. He asks Tevye's second daughter, Hodel, to marry him.  Naturally Tevye objects to her marrying a man about to go away to join a revolution, but he is told that he is not being asked for his consent, just his blessing.  Soon after leaving, Perchik is arrested and sent into exile to Siberia.  Tevye must face possibly losing his daughter Hodel when she decides to go to Siberia to be with Perchik, though she consoles him with her love in the song "Far From The Home I Love."

Tevye's third daughter, Chava, asks him to accept her marriage to a blond Russian named Fyedka.  He cannot accept her marrying outside the faith and, though it clearly breaks his heart, he turns his back on her.  Meanwhile, village by village, Jewish families are forced to leave their homes by the Russian soldiers.  The people of Anatevka are given three days to pack up their belongings and leave.  Tevye, Golde and the two youngest daughters are to go to America to live with Uncle Avram in New York.  Tzeitel, Motel and their baby are to go to Warsaw till they can join them in America.  Hodel and Perchik are still in Siberia.  Chava and Fyedka are to remain behind.  As Tevye is about to leave, Chava and Fyedka come to him one last time to beg his acceptance.  Though he does not speak directly to them, he tells Tzeitel "God will be with them" loud enough for them to hear. So there is survival, and a hope of healing, as the story ends.  The show's ending is led as it was started by a fiddler atop a roof.

The Lake Worth Playhouse has provided a solid set that serves the script without being too simple or too grand. Most of the costuming is good as well, despite glossy black character heels for a couple of females, and one young boy in "Tradition" wearing a costume patchworked from Scottish plaids.  A well executed bottle dance is the most polished bit of choreography in the show.  The pacing throughout the show is decent, though the scene "The Rumor" is so poorly done it should have been cut.

Marc Streeter as Tevye is the heart of this production.  He plays Tevye simply and without affectation.  Too often the story of Fiddler On The Roof is overpowered by actors that perform Tevye as though they are headlining in a Catskills comedy act.  Streeter finds the beauty and humor of the character of Tevye by allowing the story to come first.  Eric Harazi acts the part of Motel well, though his singing needs some work.  Christian Pineda as Perchik sings slightly better than Harazi, but has too contemporary a feel for his character.

Debbie Goldberg is so relentlessly shrewish as Golde that one is nearly surprised that Tevye doesn't leave her behind in Anatevka.  Not for one moment, even in "Do You Love Me?," does she show a tender, kind or likable side to her character.  Freda Kratka as Yente has the right acting style and ethnic feel for the role, but doesn't realize the humor inherent to her lines in her delivery.  Sabina Ortiz sings "Far From The Home I Love" nicely as Hodel. The orchestra plays the show well from start to finish, and the ensemble singing is good.  There is some real cast unevenness, with a few people looking like they have no idea what they are doing on stage.  The assets of this production far outweigh any of these problems however, and the end result is an enjoyable show.

Fiddler On The Roof appeared at the The Lake Worth Playhouse from January 19, 2007 - February 12, 2007.  The theatre is located at 713 Lake Ave in Lake Worth, FL.  The Lake Worth Playhouse is a Resident Community Playhouse celebrating it's 54th season.  For more information on the theatre and it's programs, you may contact them by phone at 561/ 586-6410, or on line at www.lakeworthplayhouse.org.

Cast
Tevye: Marc Streeter
Golde: Debbie Goldberg
Tzeitel: Kara Schwartz
Hodel: Sabina Ortiz
Chava I: Shayne Leighton
Chava II: Becca Gil
Shprintze: Alexandra Santanna
Bielke: Caiti Marlowe
Yente: Freda Kratka
Motel: Eric Harazi
Perchik: Christian Pineda
Lazar Wolf: Edward Henn
Mordcha: Richard Laudia
Rabbi: Morton Litwack
Mendel: Cameron McKay
Avram: Murray Kratka
Grandma Tzeitel: Stephanie Fineman
Fruma-Sarah I: Jennifer Roth
Fruma-Sarah II: Jeanette Thompson
Constable: Mark Garver
Fyedka; Patrick Pilch
Russian Soloist: Tom Cooch
Ensemble: Lisa Pariseau, Alana Rudnisky, Brandy Overby, Liam Fineman, Riley Bankert, Sam Cappel, Valentina Pierce, Jose Suarez

Crew
Director: Marc Carmen
Music Director/Conductor: Glen Rovinelli
Choreographer: Jacqui Garver
Scenic Design: Kat Davis
Lighting Design: Futz Cappel and Patrick Pilch
Sound Design: Lee Hintemeyer
Costumes: Carlos Toro and Broadway Costumes
Stage Managers: Michael McKeich and Phyllis Cafarelli


Photo: Malcolm Smith and Helen Buttery


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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