Fiddler on the Roof is a show for singers and Stage West’s current production is well cast with amazing voices. George Masswohl is the quintessential Tevye: He has the rich full voice to sing the favourite songs, such as Tradition and If I were a Rich Man. He has the look, and portrays the character with the right bravado but can also depict Tevye melting when he wants his daughters’ happiness. He also knows how to infuse comedy into his irreverent chats with God.
The songs make Fiddler on the Roof such a perennial favourite in musical theatre. Sunrise, Sunset at the eldest daughter’s wedding offers an emotional moment. Miracle of Miracles and Now I have Everything are a charming love songs, and the list goes on.
Behind the wonderful music is a rich story, relating the plight of Jews living in Russia under the unpopular Tsar, prior to the communist revolution. Despite poverty and fear of repression by the Russian authorities, the love of family and community made life worth living. Father Tevye takes great pride in upholding the traditions of his religion and family life. But like all generational clashes, his daughters (he has five) challenge him with their new and modern ways.
The daughters mock the old matchmaker, who is busy trying to find them husbands. The lively Matchmaker song is sung charmingly by the three oldest daughters, played perfectly by Gabi Epstein, Amy Wallis and Nicole Norsworthy. Epstein also has the opportunity to show her comedic talent, both in the Matchmaker song and when she plays the ghost of her grandmother.
The three girls’ suitors (none sanctioned by the Matchmaker), Jon-Alex MacFarlane, Eric Craig, and Graham Cardiff Parkhurst, are very good in their roles, forcing change on Tevye and his traditions.
The ensemble does justice to the beautiful songs, bringing them to life. The very poignant Sabbath Prayer is sung perfectly. There are also very good dancers, doing double duty. They give us Russian Cossacks dancing in the pub celebration, later they are Jewish dancers, carefully balancing bottles on their heads. Both dances are very well done, especially considering the limited space.
The set is good, making full use of Stage West’s small stage. The family home opens up to reveal the interior, or turns about to become the local pub.
Fiddler on the Roof is a wonderful show, enjoyed by all ages. It is also a lesson in Jewish history, persecution and emigration, well worth remembering. Packaged together with music and dance, this production offers an enjoyable evening.
Stage West and its connected Ramada Hotel in Mississauga is the ideal place for a mini-vacation. Enjoy a weekend package – A huge, delicious buffet dinner, a touching musical, a very comfortable hotel suite, and breakfast the next morning. All this can be had for the reasonable price of $289 for two on a Saturday night (weeknight prices are even lower.)
Fiddler on the Roof continues at Stage West, Mississauga until April 20, and includes buffet dinner. Special packages also include hotel suite and breakfast. Call 1-800-263-0684 or see www.stagewest.com
Fiddler on the Roof
Based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem
Written by Joseph Stein
Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Directed & Choreographed by Max Reimer
Musical direction by Anthony Bastianon
Starring George Masswohl
Stage West, Mississauga
February 12 to April 20, 2013
Reviewed by Mary Alderson