Super Summer Theatre
Fiddling at the Ranch!
If you're like me you're always planning your next evening at the theatre. This year alone I've travelled from Alaska to Acapulco and New York to Istanbul with many other stops in between. While travelling, with Broadway (and I use that term generically) always on my mind, I always look for what is happening on the local theatre scenes, but sometimes, all you need do is look in your own backyard.
Last month I discovered the Utah Shakespearean Festival's The Merry Wives of Windsor and this month I discovered a very special theatre experience called Super Summer Theater in Las Vegas where musicals are presented each summer. What's special about it is that its setting is an outdoor venue (Spring Mountain Ranch) at the foot of stunning Red Rock Canyon. At one time it was a ranch, and the ranch house is still standing and houses art exhibits. And then there is a huge meadow which leads to a well equipped outdoor stage. Curtain is always sunset but the fun begins a few hours before showtime.
For 25 years Super Summer Theatre has been presenting 3 or 4 musicals each summer and they've built quite a loyal following. The current production's run was completely sold out two weeks prior to opening night. Considering they can accomodate 1,100 theatre-goers per performance and they run 3 weeks, that's quite an accomplishment in Las Vegas.
Crowds arrive early to get their spots on the great lawn, spread their blankets out and just sit and chat amidst the scenic beauty. Many bring picnic dinners and coolers filled with favorite libations; others sit on chairs on the sidelines. As the sun sets a cool breeze swirls through the air and the excitement of Broadway hushes the crowd to silence.
Fiddler On The Roof is the third and final production of the 2000 season. As the curtain goes up we see the little village, and there, up on the roof, is the fiddler playing the familiar title tune. We are no longer at the ranch, but we are magically transported to Anatevka.
Jeff Fleming, as Tevye, makes his entrance through the audience and on his way to the stage he welcomes us to his village. Reaching the stage he's joined by a cast of 40 for a rousing opening number, "Tradition." Jeff makes a fine Tevye, a bit reserved in the opening number, but he lets loose and comes into his own in "If I Were A Rich Man."
Throughout the years I've seen many Tevye's including Zero Mostel, Herschel Bernardi, Topol and Paul Lipson. It's the central role and without a good Tevye, you don't have much of a show. Fortunately, Jeff Fleming captures the qualities that makes Tevye the lovable character he is. With a very strong supporting cast this Fiddler On The Roof is first-rate!
Opposite Jeff, in the role of Golda, Tevye's wife, is Joy Demain. In whatever production Joy performs in, she's always outstanding; she just has that little something extra. Her Golda is right on the money with just the right accent and comic timing. She also possesses a strong singing voice, which, while not used much in this show, is displayed in the duet "Do You Love Me?" Both Jeff and Joy find the chemistry between Tevye and Golda and are a joy to watch on stage, pardon the pun.
Many of the supporting leads are excellent, including Yenta the Matchmaker (Mickie Lichtman), the daughters Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava (Kate Harris, Gayle Dawn Comins, Tracy Petrini), Motel (Stephen Rinck) and Lazar Wolf (Paul Lichtman). Choreography, sets, costumes and lighting, and particularly, the sound, all contributed to this production. Under the direction of Betty Sullivan-Cleary the entire cast pulls off a Fiddler that is very enjoyable and makes for a fun evening under the stars.
Next season Super Summer Theatre will be presenting South Pacific, You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, and The Wiz.
I'll be there!
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