In the script for Fiddler on the Roof, there’s a typo. I remember this because when we put on the show in high school, our Motel followed the script, and really, “Over than a year ago…” doesn’t make much sense.
Why am I mentioning this? Because Motel in the KWMP production of Fiddler we saw last night at Centre in the Square did the same thing. It’s the little things that crank up the nostalgia, sometimes…
Fiddler is one of those things I’m always going to be really picky about, I think. Doing that play was one of the best times of high school. It significantly influenced my (ill-fated) decision to go to theatre school. Plus, hell, even at 18 I was fairly well qualified to play Golde. In auditions I whipped out a modified Russian accent, rode Tevye’s ass (not literally), and actually smacked him on the shoulder at one point. (Tevye was about 6’5″ and about 250lbs, so not easily damaged.) A match made in heaven, really. 🙂 (And of course there’s this anecdote — scroll down.)
While I did like the singing voice last night’s Tevye had, in general he didn’t quite do it for me. Took him a while to get his pacing, and he rushed a lot in the first act or so. (Andrew quipped that he was a Russian Jew… HAR HAR.) Even the orchestra had trouble keeping up with him in spots. He was also just a bit too… average. The opening monologue just felt kinda like some dude talking to the audience. Has to be said: my Tevye was better. At 17. (Hi, Eric Sanderson!)
Actually, I didn’t love any of the main adult characters. Golde was a bit too… stylized. Needed more curmudgeon. Yente… ugh. Just annoyed the crap outta me. Shrill, lacking in texture, needed more… age, seasoning, something. And they didn’t really give Yente and Golde any kind of relationship, other than folks who know each other/members of the community, etc.
I preferred the tactic we took, which was that, despite Golde’s taciturn nature and Yente’s… yente-ness, there was a fondness there. Golde secretly likes Yente’s flamboyance and envies her ability so complain loud and long and say whatever she thinks, and Yente likes Golde’s good sense (or her interpretation of it), and, of course, that she has five (cha-ching!) daughters needing husbands. There’s a lot of potential play between the two characters, which can culminate beautifully in the “You’re going to the Holy Land?” scene at the end. But it wasn’t there. Sad.
The kids, however — the elder daughters and their respective (eventual) husbands — I liked rather better. Tzeitel had a good motherly aspect to her, and made a cute foil for her nebbishy tailor. Hodel had a good voice (a bit “theatrical” for my taste, but hell, we were in a theatre…) and a respectably sharp tongue. And Chava’s sweetness came through nicely. Those girls are still young and green, but I think they could develop into some pretty good actresses.
The rabbi was terrible. He looked like a teenager in a big, fake beard. Sounded like one, too. Personally I prefer playing up the rabbi, like playing up Yente. Older than Methusaleh, a bit dotty, but occasionally with a shot of barbed wit. Good stuff. Their Fiddler was the most innocuous I’ve ever seen, too. Somehow he (although the role seems to be played by girls often enough) didn’t have the ethereal creepiness and philosophical presence I expected.
Certain points I really enjoyed, though whether more for their own merits or for the nostalgia they sparked I don’t know. They also made me realize just what some of the people in our cast pulled off. The guys who did the bottle dance at the wedding in our production actually managed a rather harder routine, and straight up — nothing securing the bottles to the hats.
The dancing that Perchik sparks at the wedding needed more oomph, too. The cast just seemed to be focused on remembering their steps and formations. And there was no sense of holy shit! when Tevye demanded to dance with Golde. (After all, they weren’t crazy teenagers…) However, I had a nostalgic chuckle. I mean, c’mon, I’m not even 5’4″ and had to dance with someone who’s 6’5″? 🙂
Anyway, all in all, certainly a local production, but well done, and always enjoyable. Although they totally wussed out by not having live animals. Heh.