The Norton Players summer show is "Fiddler on the Roof". Director Ted Mitchell breathes new life into this show by mixing the comic and tragic elements together giving it the needed energy and power to display how a successful musical should be done. The show takes place in Tsarist Russia in 1905 and is about the milkman, Tevye, his wife, Golde and their five daughters, his attempts to maintain his family and religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. The original Broadway show opened in 1964 and was nominated for ten Tony Awards, winning nine including Best Musical, score, book, direction and choreography. It remains Broadway's fourteenth longest running show in history.The expert musical direction is by Anthony Torelli who brings out the best vocal quality of the 45 member cast while choreographer Judee Bottomley creates some splendid dance numbers to entertain the audience. The talented performers shine in their roles, making this one of the better productions of this well known show.
From the comic "If I Were a Rich Man" and Dream sequence to the touching "Sabbath Prayer", "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Anatevka, Ted knows how mix the comedy and pathos to make you laugh heartily and tug at your heartstrings. He not only directs the show beautifully but blocks it wonderfully, too. Anthony conducts his 10 piece orchestra and they sound splendid. He taught the cast some gorgeous harmonies that soar in their execution of them especially "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Anatevka". Ted casts Anna McReynolds as the Fiddler. Judee's dance numbers are splendid especially "Tradition", "Matchmaker", the wedding dance and the "To Life" dance. Leading this huge cast is David Giagrando as Tevye. I last reviewed him in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" at Turtle Lane Playhouse last year. He brings perfect comic timing to this role as well as the warmth it needs, too. His relationship with his wife and daughters are excellent in both the comic and dramatic moments. David's vocal prowess shines through in his strong delivery of his songs. His rendition of "If I Were a Rich Man" stops the show. His rendition of "Tradition" and his duets with Golde including "Sabbath Prayer", "The Dream","Sunrise, Sunset" and "Do You Love Me?" are topnotch, too. The poignant moments are with Hodel in her solo and with Chava in "Little Bird" will bring tears to your eyes while the comic "To Life" and "The Dream" will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter.
Judee Bottomley as Golde, has a lot of chemistry with David and shines in this role with her strong acting prowess. She does double duty in this show as Golde and the choreographer. Tevye and Golde's adversarial relationship comes across and her admittance of love after 25 years becomes more touching because of it. Judee gets to show off her voice with David in their duets. One of her funniest lines is when she yells at Tevye after his drunken spree. Judee shows the dramatic side of Golde when she finds out Tevye has disowned Chava for marrying outside their faith. The young couples act and sing beautifully, too. Christyn Hobbs as Tzeitel and Brian Kenerson as Motel shine in their roles as the eldest daughter and her true love. Her strong singing voice comes through in "Matchmaker" and her interactions with her sisters are wonderful. Brian is hilarious as the timid Motel who finally stands up for himself in his solo "Miracle of Miracles" showing off his baritone voice. Mary MacMurray as Hodel and Andrew Johnson as Perchik do an awesome job with their roles. Mary's soprano voice sounds gorgeous in "Matchmaker" and especially in her solo "Far From the Home I Love" one of the prettiest songs in the show. Andrew's tenor voice soars in "Now I Have Everything" one of the most difficult songs in the show. They show off their dancing ability in the wedding scene. Melissa Alexander as Chava and Dan Gravely as Fyedka are wonderful in their roles. He shows off his tenor voice in "To Life" Russian section and his strong dancing skills in the Russian dance while Melissa sings with Christyn and Mary in "Matchmaker" and gets to tug at your heartstrings in "Little Bird" and the confrontation scene with David.
Two funny performers in this show are Janet Ferreri as Fruma Sarah and Louise Tetreault as Grandma Tzeitel. They perform in the "Dream" number where they convince Golde to let Motel marry Tzeital. They are rewarded with much laughter. Janet is on top of Dan Gravely as Fruma Sarah making her tower over everyone onstage. Another comic performer is Gilana Austin as Yente, the matchmaker. Her one liners and long speeches are funny. She leads "The Rumor" song in Act 2 David Brady plays the role of Lazar Wolf, who Yente matches up with Tzeital. He sings "To Life" duet with Tevye. Michael Molitor plays the elderly Rabbi while Bruce Fischer plays his son, Mendel. The Rabbi does a funny dance in the wedding scene. Brendan Smith as the constable, plays the villain of the show. The youngest daughters are played by Claire Alexander and Julia Goldberg who is Janet's real life daughter. Stage manager Mike Duarte keeps things running smoothly all night long. Kudos to the cast and crew for creating a topnotch show audiences can thoroughly enjoy.