Theater Review: Fiddler On The Roof

 

A reimagined, earthy production, combined with the traditions of exciting and goose bump-inducing dancing, created a nostalgic night of theatre at Bartlett Sher’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” This breathtaking production began previews on Nov. 20 at the Broadway Theatre.

“Fiddler on the Roof,” with music by Jerry Block, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein, is based on Sholem Aleichem’s short stories of Tevye, a dairyman living in a small Jewish village in 1900s Russia. He struggles to support his wife and daughters during a time of prejudice and poverty.

Sher’s recent productions including “South Pacific” and “The King and I,” all share a commonality with “Fiddler on the Roof.” Each production is beautifully simplistic, allowing for ones imagination to go wild.

Danny Burstein, who plays the role of Tevye, delivered a passionate performance. His portrayal of a progressive father who wants the best for his children was natural and heart-felt. Burstein’s rendition of ‘If I Were A Rich Man,’ a highlight of the night, showed off his vocal chops and comedic timing.

Samantha Massell and Adam Kantor gave star-quality performances as Hodel and Motel, respectively. Massell, the vocally strongest of Teyve’s daughters, sang a heart-rending rendition of ‘Far From The Home I Love.’ Her performance resulted in sniffles throughout the house of over 1,500 patrons.  Kantor brought charisma and animation to his role making the loyal tailor loveable to all.

The artistic and energetic characteristics of this production were thanks to Israeli-born, United Kingdom-based choreographer, Hofesh Shechter.  Shechter’s “refreshed” choreography married a new movement language with Jerome Robbins’ iconic dances. ‘The Bottle Dance,’ in particular, drew gasps from the audience. This culturally realistic choreography made the audience feel like they were transported to Anatevka.

This production is sure to make a rich man out of Burstein and Shechter during Tony Award® season. The original production in 1964 won nine Tony Awards®.  These awards included Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor, Best Performance by a Featured Actress, Best Producer, Best Director, Best Composer and Lyricist and Best Choreography.

With a current running time of two hours and 45 minutes, the show has some pacing issues to work out. In addition, there were apparent blending problems that can hopefully resolve over time.

“Fiddler On The Roof” opens on Broadway Dec. 20th.

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