Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Fiddler on The Roof"

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entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"Fiddler on The Roof"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Granite Theatre's current show is "Fiddler on the Roof". Director David Jepson breathes new life into this well known show by playing up the comic elements to balance the overwhelming tragic ones, giving the show the needed energy and power to display how a successful musical should be done. The show takes place in 1905 and is about the milkman, Tevye, his wife, Golde and their 5 daughters. The expert musical direction is by Audrey Kaiser who brings out the best vocal quality of her cast while choreographer Chris Mahn creates some splendid dance numbers to entertain the audience. The multitalented cast members shine in their roles and from start to finish, this is the definitive production of "Fiddler" with a performance time of two hours and ten minutes, making it one of the must see shows of this fall season. Bravo.

David ends Act 1 with the Dream scene and puts the Anatevka song at the very end of the show, giving it a much more powerful impact by having the family and villagers sing it as they leave forever. Audrey not only music directs the show but also plays the keyboards with Carol Lyon on percussion. Audrey obtains some topnotch harmonies in the songs. Chris' dance numbers are splendid especially the bottle dance, Russian dance, "To Life" and "Matchmaker". Leading the cast is Frank Pendola as Tevye. He brings perfect comic timing to this role as well as the warmth it needs, too. His relationship with his wife and his daughters are excellent with the comic and dramatic moments. Frank's vocal prowess shines through in his strong delivery of his songs. His rendition of "If I Were a Rich Man" stops the show and his "Tradition", duets with Golde including "Sabbath Prayer", "The Dream", "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Do You Love Me" are fabulous, too. The poignant moments 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 leave you rolling in the aisles with laughter.

Lisa Clough as Golde, has a lot of chemistry with Frank. Their adversarial relationship comes across and her admittance of love after 25 years becomes more poignant because of it. Lisa gets to show off her voice with Frank in the duets. One of her funniest lines is when she tells Tevye that he frightens her so much, she'll faint when she gets home. Lisa shows her dramatic side when she finds out Chava has been disowned by Tevye for marrying outside the faith. The young couples act and sing beautifully. Chantal Gagnon as Tzeitel and Bradshaw Wish as Motel shine in their roles as the eldest daughter and her true love. Chantal's crying scene at the end of the show is dynamite and Brad's rendition of "Miracle of Miracle's is fabulous. Heidi Beckmann as Hodel and John Cillino as Perchik do an awesome job in their roles. Heidi's glorious voice soars in "Matchmaker" and especially in her solo, "Far From the Home I Love", the prettiest ballad in the show. John also does a great job with "Now I Have Everything", one of the most difficult vocal numbers in the show. Chelsea McLaughlin as Chava and James Nelson as Fyedka are wonderful in their roles. Chelsea sings with Chantal and Heidi in "Matchmaker" and gets to tug at your heartstrings in the "Little Bird" and confrontation scene with Frank. James plays the Russian outsider who tries to make Tevye accept a member of another faith into his family.

Two of the biggest scene stealers in the show are Molly Marks as Grandma Tzeital and Sue Staniunas as Fruma Sarah. They perform in the "Dream" number where they convince Golde to let Motel marry Tzeital. Another scene stealer is Mary Sue Chiaradio as Yente, the matchmaker. Her one liners and long speeches are very comical. Arthur Pignataro handles the role of Lazar Wolf, who Yente matches up with Tzeital. He handles the comic element of this role wonderfully. Chris Mahn plays the elderly Rabbi while Ben Leatham plays his son, Mendel. (Ben who is in high school and John Alfiero and Drew Rosene do a fantastic bottle dance.) Ben acts and sings wonderfully in the show, too. Greg Bliven as the Constable, plays the villain of the show beautifully. (Boo, hiss.) The youngest daughters are played by Bethany Gagnon and Grace Rezendes. Kudos to the cast and crew who make this a show to be very proud of. So for an outstanding production of "Fiddler" be sure to catch this show before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

"Fiddler on The Roof" (13 - 29 October)
1 Granite Street, WESTERLY RI
1 (401) 596-2341

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide