Maryland performances including Theater, plays, ballet and opera
- Published on Sunday, 10 June 2012 12:39
- Written by Mike Liberto
In a rapidly changing world, how can one man hold on to his faith, his family, and his home without giving up all he holds dear? This question and many others are raised as 2nd Star Productions brings the Tony Award-winning musical, "Fiddler on the Roof" to life.
"Fiddler on the Roof" was first produced on Broadway in 1964 and played for more than 3,000 performances, setting a record for the longest running show on Broadway at the time. "Fiddler" follows the life of Tevye (played by Fred Nelson), a poor Jewish milkman, as he attempts to provide a life for his wife and five daughters in Tsarist Russia in the year 1905. He tries to maintain the traditions of his faith, though he is constantly challenged by the ever present threat of change. Though Tevye is a devout man, he is not without flaws, as he constantly questions why God would test him with a life of poverty, five strong-willed daughters, and a horse that will not do its share of the work. The music by Jerry Bock borrows from many traditional Jewish tunes, while the book and lyrics, by Joseph Stein and Sheldon Harnick, respectively, offer glimpses into the culture of these poor Jewish folk, just "trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck."
When Fred Nelson first walks out onto stage as Tevye, audiences may wonder what time machine brought this man to 2012. So engrossing is Nelson's performance as Tevye that it is hard to believe that he is not the real man, straight out of 1905. His every word and action are real and believable. Such talent is also exhibited by the actresses portraying his three eldest daughters, Erin Lorenz (Tzeitel), Malarie Novotny (Hodel), and Samantha Yangilmau (Chava). These young ladies are among the most talented members of the cast, carving out distinct characters for each daughter, and backing up their characters with wonderful vocal abilities.
Where the show comes up short is in the abilities of some ensemble members, as well as supporting actors, and a set that, at times, seems more burdensome than beneficial. At times, the ensemble members seemed content to go through the motions of choreography, or bumbled through lines and blocking. In particular, Alex Meyer-Stokes (Perchik), puts on a robotic performance that will leave audiences wanting much more than the actor can or will give.
The set, a group of artfully painted, rolling flats, convey different settings in the village well, but cramp the stage during large numbers like "Tradition" and the wedding scene. During the dance portion of "To Life," the set pieces actually started rolling apart, though fortunately not while the cast was using it.
Despite some shortcomings, 2nd Star Productions puts on a show that will have audiences laughing and tapping their feet to many of the show's bigger numbers. While some lackluster performances noticeably hinder the enjoyment, the production as a whole is worth seeing and will leave audiences saying "L'Chaim" for days.
"Fiddler on the Roof" runs through June 30, 2012 (Fri.-Sun. only), at the Bowie Playhouse in White Marsh Park, Bowie. The performance runs just under 3 hours with a 15 minute intermission. Tickets are available at 2ndstarproductions.com.
Mike Liberto is a drama major/English minor at Washington College, Chestertown, MD. When not acting, singing, or reading, Mike enjoys puppies, his girlfriend, and video games.