Reviewed by Margaret Thompson
Even with snow after snow wreaking havoc on the rehearsal schedule, even forcing the cancellation of dress rehearsal, the uber-talented group at CharacterWorks managed to nail their opening night performance of Fiddler on the Roof.
Featuring a seasoned group of “veteran actors” (mind you, the oldest is still just nineteen), some of whom have been in over two dozen CharacterWorks shows (yes you, Charlie Allen), Fiddler on the Roof entertained the sold-out crowd at Steward School’s Robins Theatre on a chilly Friday night. I had limited knowledge of this one going into it, other than the song that my dad sang often (and beautifully) when I was a child, “If I Were a Rich Man” (and I can’t get it out of my head now!). CW’s managing director, Donna Amadee, told me when I arrived, “You’ll recognize so many songs that you didn’t even know were from Fiddler on the Roof.” Right she was – “Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match…” – yep, from Fiddler. “Sunrise, Sunset” – that one too. Okay, Dad, I should have known this…sorry! The amazing live orchestra really made for a treat, making it feel like we were being transported straight to Broadway.
The play opens with, you guessed it, a fiddler…on a roof. The simple, rustic backdrop and props set the tone for the play and made the most out of subtle lighting, changing the mood with often only a change in lighting throughout the play. We’re presented with the main character Tevye, expertly played by 17-year-old Lee Davis High School senior Chris Cox, who introduced us to the village, the townspeople, and the supporting cast. A poor Jewish milkman and father of five daughters, Tevye attempts to maintain his religious and cultural traditions, as outside influences encroach upon the family’s lives. He must cope both with the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters, who wish to marry for love – each one’s choice of a husband moving further away from the customs of his faith – and with the edict of the Tsar that evicts the Jews from their village at the close of the play. Tevye’s three older daughters, played by Rachel Nentwich, Abigail Price, and Kennedy Mehfoud, and his wife, played by Millie Sargent, showed what many years of CharacterWorks training gets you – stellar performances.
The entire cast has reason to be proud of another terrific showing. A trip to a CharacterWorks production shows the result of many hours of rehearsal, memorization, set design, costuming, makeup and much, much planning by the staff and parent volunteers.
Fiddler on the Roof continues through Sunday, March 15, at the Robins Theatre at the Steward School. Tickets are available here at CharacterWorks.