CenterStage Fiddler on the Roof Review
I went to CenterStage yesterday to see the final mainstage production in their current 2014-2015 season! Direct from Broadway’s Golden Age of musical theater, “Fiddler on the Roof” is not only a perfect finale to their 100th anniversary season, but also a fitting opening celebration of the Jewish Community Center of Louisville’s 125 Anniversary. With themes of tradition, family and community, there is no better way to honor the traditions of the past while looking forward to the future of these two well-known Louisville institutions than with this timeless classic.
“Fiddler on the Roof” recently celebrated its 50th anniversary proving that although the show is inherently Jewish, it appeals to all with its timeless and universal themes. “Fiddler” is a celebration of life and its constant challenges.
In a small Ukrainian village around 1910, we meet Tevye, a poor dairyman, with a wife and five daughters. Monroe Fields Jr. portrays Tevye and though this is not his first time doing so, he breathes so much life into his character and I would think, a new meaning to some of the mannerisms, now that he has experienced fatherhood in real life. Fields is reprising his role as Tevye from CenterStage’s 2006 production. He stated, "Fiddler has always played an important role in my life, having met my wife, Emily, during another local production, and also playing Tevye during my senior year at New Albany High School.” Fields continues, “Having children puts a nice new perspective on Tevye. I’m coming at it from a very different place now.” Certainly, as a parent now myself, I kept connecting with him and understanding the underlying meaning in so many of his characters words (as opposed to connecting with the daughters when I saw this musical years ago as a young girl).
While trying to balance life – like a fiddler on a roof, he attempts to hold onto his traditions despite the social changes challenging his traditional values and threatening the community he loves. The entire cast surges onto the stage during the opening number of Tradition and immediately takes your breath away with their exuberance and large sound! It is thrilling to hear such great musical theater pieces sung by highly skilled musicians.
As the story begins to unfold, we meet Tevye's older daughters and start to learn than Hodel (Charlotte Campbell), Chava (Ashley Gurwell), and Tzeitel (Margo Wooldridge) are like normal girls, hoping and looking and waiting for fate to step in and bring their true love to them. As they sing Matchmaker, we are reminded of old school ways in how young girls were not allowed to marry for love but we feel for them as we know they want to break through these lines.
While theatergoers may view “Fiddler” as a show for the older generation, the show’s relevance in today’s world cannot be ignored. As one listen to familiar songs like If I Were a Rich Man and Sunrise, Sunset, we are reminded that so much can lie in memories but so much also needs to be left in the past to move forward into a brighter tomorrow. There are some great lighter, comedic scenes, most involving Golde, played by Carol Dines and Yente, played by Barbara Myerson Katz. The dream sequence is bright and unexpected but both make it funny! Jason Cooper as the Rabbi is also very endearing. There is so much talent packed into this cast. Wayne Hogue, as Motel, and Jordan Price, as Perchik, bring beautiful melodies to the stage. Micheal Detmet, Michael Evans, and Alfred Jones do some impressive dancing as well! Children will love to watch and listen, but know that the show does run somewhat long. At about 2.5 hours, I would not recommend bringing children under the age of 7.
Based on Sholom Alechem’s story, “Tevye and his Daughters,” with a book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, “Fiddler on the Roof” first appeared on Broadway in 1964. It swept the Tony Awards with nine Bests, including Best Musical for a score that features the now classic songs, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Do You Love Me.” The 1971 film adaptation garnered three Academy Awards and a Golden Globe for Best Picture.
“This is my eighth time being a part of this brilliant musical. And though I have directed it five times and acted in it twice, each time I find new things,” said Artistic Director John R. Leffert. “Whether it is a recently discovered piece of history or culture or new insights into one of the characters, there is always something to make each production fresh. Being able to direct it for the Jewish Community Center on this landmark anniversary makes an already special show all the more precious.”
The production runs through March 29, 2015 - Get your tickets now as many performances are already selling out!
CenterStage at the Jewish Community Center, 3600 Dutchman’s Lane, Louisville, KY 40205
Cost: Tickets are $20 in advance, $22 at the door for adults and $16 in advance and $18 at the door for children (10 and under).
Purchase tickets: (502) 238-2709, CenterStageJCC.org or click here: http://www.ticketderby.com/event/?id=248054
About CenterStage at the Jewish Community Center: For 100 years, CenterStage has provided a venue for professional quality theatre with broad cultural appeal. CenterStage offers a premier musical theater experience for the whole community, while also providing opportunities for children, adults and seniors to participate directly in all aspects of theatre – acting, singing, dancing, set and costume construction, marketing, education and more. Audiences and cast members are racially, culturally and religiously diverse, representing the community at large. Inspired by Artistic Director John R. Leffert, each season CenterStage embarks on ambitious productions of popular Broadway shows with visually stunning sets and costumes, amazing talent and music that will move you. Our mission is to provide consistent quality theater to patrons, and present works of Jewish interest with broad cultural appeal. Sell-out audiences tell us that we’re honoring that tradition and creating a new generation of theatre-goers. “A CenterStage season ticket is arguably the best bargain in town, offering Broadway quality productions and an eclectic repertoire.” – Anne Fox Miller, CenterStage Season Subscriber