TRADITION CONTINUES FIDDLER PEDDLES TIMELESS TRUTHS ARTFULLY! LAUGHS,SCHMALTZ
Posted on Saturday, October 13 @ 10:53:34 EDT by jfbailey
WPCNR ON THE AISLE. Theatrical Review by John F. Bailey. October 13, 2012:
The beginning moment: the exotic Fiddler,the magical, agile, light-on-his-feet,engaging-on-the-bow Andrew Mayer,(right) with the likable, laughable, lovable, Bill Nolte (left) bring Zero Mostel and Fiddler to life.
As Nolte sung Tradition beginning Broadway’s 9-Tony award-winning musical , Fiddler on the Roof, at Westchester Broadway Theatre Opening Night, the classic cast the spell it always has from first note to last whether you are seeing it for the first time or many times.
Bill Nolte as Tevye in the Zero Mostel role, gives an opening explanation of Tradition starting you off and never lets you stop living and enjoying, suffering, and experiencing life for all its moments. (Photos Courtesy, Westchester Broadway Theatre by John Vechiolla)
Set in a little Russian village in 1905 (that could be 2005) portraying the conflict of one generation to the next and the sufferings of all oppressed people, “Fiddler” so connects with its audience, it made Zero Mostel a star. “Fiddler” musically preserves the struggle of life from a Jewish perspective. The "Fiddler" songs in just the first act still touch every parent’s heart.
The Inn scene where Nolte as Teyve and the men of the village sing To Life (L’Chaim) to celebrate Teyve’s assenting to give his daughter Tzeitel’s hand in marriage to the much-older butcher (Eric Johnson) though Tzeitel has her cap set for the tailor in the village, who does not have the courage to ask Teyve for her hand. Mr. Johnson and Nolte make give joyous meaning to the toast L’chaim. This is easily the happiest number in a show that has all that life has in store, drudgery, joy, hope, achievement, heartbreak, courage, it is all here in Fiddler.
Bill Nolte plays Tevye as Zero Mostel played him, a swaggering,bigger-than-life, everyman character whose masterly performance nobly recalls Mr. Mostel’s master-timing of jokes, deadpans, eyebrow rolls and asides and evokes the sense of bewilderment and pain, ability to muddle and endure the inevitable pain of life.
Guests at the wedding of Tevye’s daughter reflect in Sunrise, Sunset on how daughters (and sons) leave to start lives on their own. There’s Nolte’s whimsical tour de force delivering If I were a Rich Man,
To set the scene for you: it is 1905 Russia where Jews are afflicted by a labor movement, strikes and resentment gripping all of Russia that lead to pogroms against Jewish towns and enclaves by the Czar and Nationalist groups. Jewish groups had suffered from the Czar’s May Laws restricting Jews from immigrating to Russia, when Jewish labor groups were blamed for the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1882.
In May 1882, the Czar introduced temporary regulations called May Laws lasting 30 years until 1917. Policies of discrimination, limits on the number of Jews allowed to obtain education and professions caused widespread poverty and mass emigration. In 1886, Jews were expelled from Kiev. Communities of Jews were removed by Czarist forces and nationalist groups alike. “Fiddler” plays out in this atmosphere of persecution and ethnic cleansing of that time.
Tzeitel (Rachel Prather, left) starts a trend, with Teyve’s other two daughters, Hodel (Sarah Rolleston)(center) and Chava (Donna Glaus)(right each falling in love with a radical young man and a young man not of the Jewish faith. Here the three sisters sing Matchmaker, Matchmaker in Act One.All three deliver their integral cameo romances with believable pathos and longing -- all the emotions love is.
Tevye convinces his wife, Golde (played with comic seriousness by Emily Zacharias,left, above) that Grandma Tzeitel came to him in a dream predicting that Tzeitel should marry the tailor.The dream sequence wonderfully lit by Andrew Gmoser, is a farce of husbandly storytelling. Does Golde buy it? What do you think? Nolte and Zacharias also sing a touching duet in Act II, Do You Love Me? I enjoyed this amusing yet poignant portrayal of mystery of marriage.
The musical presents a history lesson of the faith and traditions of the Jewish people, as Teyve works through his daughter Tzeitel (wanting to marry Motel a poor tailor, and not the butcher that matchmaker Yente (Terry Palasz) has selected for her. Tzeitel played with earnest, believable longing by Rachel Prather (left), prevails on him to give his permission. She sings a marvelous, touching ode to young love conquering all with Motel, her tailor, Miracle of Miracles.
Boza and Prather make a winning couple-- Boza as Motel is the picture of the infatuated desperate young man, and Prather the lovestruck, determined spirit of youth fighting tradition. They make a great couple.
Act One concludes with the joyous wedding scene featuring the bottle dance…only to end in chaos, as czarist authorities disrupt the ceremony boding troubles to come – that unfold in the second act.
The second act ends with the uplifting spirit of people everywhere who endure and survive. An outstanding song is song by Sarah Rolleston's Hodel. She breaks your heart as she sings of her new life with the young man she has chosen to follow taking her Far From the Home I Love.
A viewer who saw the second night performance told this critic, she felt it was the best production she had ever seen at Westchester Broadway Theatre.
Fiddler plays until November 25, then returns to WBT, January 5. For more information on tickets call (914) 592-2222, or go to www.broadwaytheatre.com.