Thoughts on Fiddler on the Roof

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I’ve been lucky enough to see Fiddler on the Roof twice now – once during opening night and secondly, yesterday. This happened to be a coincidence, but it was nice to see the show from upstairs to seated near the front of the stage. I can’t seem to make up my mind which I preferred more. I liked that upstairs you could appreciate the choreography, but if you’re blind like me, nothing beats being close to the stage. So saying this, I would encourage you to see it twice, if you can, as you get to see a different perspective of the show depending where you sit.

I will have some tidbits from the media call up soon too!
But for now, there’s more under the cut!

I had often wondered if Fiddler on the Roof is relevant to the world of today because there are many themes in this musical that some young people of today may not understand. But at it’s core, the themes are about families and traditions, and I think that’s something we can all relate to. Perhaps my advice is to not bring children along. It’s not a musical with bright lights and colours so it is more than likely that most of them will grow restless as it is quite a long.

At first I doubted if Anthony Warlow could live up to the performance originally created by Topol in the movie version, and also the 2005/2006 production I saw in Melbourne, but I was happy that he did not disappoint. Although, I am biased as Anthony Warlow can do no wrong in my eyes (except for his performance in Pirates of Penzance, did anyone see that? Tragic, it was. Well, actually, I’m biased on that too – as no one can beat Kevin Kline’s performance in the 1982 film version, at least in my eyes. But I’m getting off topic).

Anthony does an amazing job playing Tevye, especially considering he didn’t think he was right for the role in the very beginning. Bare in mind though, he is not trying to copy Topol’s performance – in fact, Anthony is playing him as a Polish Jew, hence the light hair and different accent.

The one weak link in the performance is Sigrid Thornton, playing Tevye’s wife Golde. It’s not that she does a bad job, it’s just that she is no match against the brilliant performance by Anthony. I also feel like although her acting was enthusiast, it was a little over-performed for my taste. After all, this is a musical, and not a pantomime, so it’s unnecessary to the performance. You could almost forgive her for this only being her second musical, but her vocal limitations are also on show during her parts in Do You Love Me? and Sunrise, Sunset. It’s unfortunate that both her numbers are with Anthony, as perhaps if she had her own solo, these faults wouldn’t be so obvious.

I’ve spoken to others about Sigrid’s performance, and there is a clear 50/50 divide. I guess in the end it comes down to personal taste. I personally didn’t like her performance, but it’s not to say that others wouldn’t. There did seem to be a lake of chemistry between Sigrid and Anthony, whose to blame I’m not sure, but this could also be down to a bad casting decision as she may have been cast for her namesake and not for her suitability for the role.

That also brings me to the performance of Lior. Considering this is his first musical – and a nice jump from musician to theatre actor – I thought he did a great job. Miracle of Miracles is a hard song to sing, and I’ve never actually heard anyone sing the song that well, but he did a good job.

I also thought Mark Mitchell gave a strong performance as butcher, Lazar Wolf, as did all five daughters. I especially enjoyed the performances of the two youngest, but Teagan Wouters (Tzeitel), Monica Swayne (Hodel) and Jessica Vickers (Chava) are strong in their roles, and one can forgive them for the minor Australia accent slips. The girls also display strong chemistry with their respected partners Lior (Motel), Blake Bowden (Perchik) and Jensen Overend (Fyedka). One can also not fault Nicki Wendt’s great performance as matchmaker, Yente.

The set is stripped back with woods and navy blues, with house set pieces that pull out of the wall to create different stages. There’s not too much going on, but it works and is very effective. The music and lighting is also perfect – and there should be no complaints from anybody. In fact, leaving the theatre, I heard nothing but praise from every body. I also know of others who straight after the show, said that they were going to book tickets to see it again.

Show closes on February 27th, before heading to Sydney!
For more information and tickets, go to: http://fiddlerontherooftour.com

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