Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fiddler on the Roof

A beautiful production of Fiddler on the Roof is currently playing at Cumberland County Playhouse. Fiddler on the Roof is the story of a Jewish family in the early 1900s in Russia. Tevye, played by Jim Crabtree, and his wife Golde, played by Carol Irvin, have five daughters. They are a poor family and depend on village matchmaker Yente, played by Weslie Webster, to help them find good men for their daughters to marry since they have nothing to offer for dowry.

As the three oldest of their children reach an age at which they should be marrying, Tevye has to make some serious decisions on how to approach a turbulent and changing time in his country. Tzeitel, played by Emily Wood, wishes to marry for love, instead of money and security. Hodel, played by Lindy Pendzick, finds love with an outsider, come to the village to teach. Both of these matches are grudgingly approved by Tevye, but when his middle child Chava, played by Ali Gritz, falls in love with a man who is not Jewish and who is a Russian soldier, Tevye is devastated.

Meanwhile, unrest in the area is causing many Jewish people to be run out of their homes by the Russian government. The local constable, played by John Fionte, is considered by and considers Tevye a friend, but in the end follows orders that cause Tevye and his family, along with all the other Jewish families in the village of Anatevka, to be forced from the area.

The opening song of the show was probably my favorite ensemble number. “Tradition” is one of the songs that I remember from the few times I saw the movie. It was a great performance, with the entire cast being on stage (at times looking a little crowded for the small CCP stage). The choreography for this number was amazing, considering the number of people involved and the song itself sets up the time, place, and ideals of this little village of Anatevka.

One of the most famous songs from the show (at least the one I think is most recognizable), is Tevye’s song “If I Were a Rich Man.” The song is full of humor and Jim Crabtree did a great job with bringing in the laughs during this number (and throughout the rest of the show). His constant conversations with God were amusing and completely understandable from his viewpoint.

Perhaps the most touching and beautifully choreographed part of the show is “Chava Ballet.” Ali Gritz and Austin Price do a lovely job with this ballet piece. Seeing the pain and heartbreak that Chava goes through after her separation from her father, and in turn, seeing Teyve’s heartbreak and disappointment with his daughter’s decisions was enough that I heard more than one person’s sniffles around me (and some of them might even have been my own).

This show was nothing less than another wonderful production put on by the Cumberland County Playhouse. They never seem to fail in talent, professionalism, and flat out great shows. So how do you write about a show that was well sung, well-acted, and well performed…but that you still don’t really care for? I always hate to speak negatively of a show. So my disclaimer for this post is that anything negative about this show is simply due to the fact that I don’t really care for Fiddler on the Roof. The story and the music just never really seemed to be my cup of tea. I never really liked the movie and hadn’t watched it in years, so when I saw the Cumberland County Playhouse version this weekend, I was simply reminded WHY I never watch the movie (it kind of depresses me).

I can honestly recommend that you see this show, especially if you are a fan of Fiddler on the Roof. I’ll also say that if I have to watch it, I was blessed to see this fantastic production at the Cumberland County Playhouse. If you’re a fan (or think you might be), you can still see Fiddler on the Roof at CCP through December 18th. You can call the box office at 931-484-5000 for tickets, or visit their website HERE to purchase tickets online.

Go see it and let me know what you thought. Or if you’ve seen another production of Fiddler (or are simply a fan of the movie) and would like to debate *cough*argue*cough* with me about all the great things about the show, please comment (respectfully please). I’d love to hear what other people think about the show (this production or others).

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