Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Fiddler on the Roof REVIEW
Fiddler raises the roof at BHS Performance Center
Drama Club honors its own ‘Tradition!’
By Heather Wysocki
If it takes a village to raise a child, it in turn takes a bunch of children to create a village. For evidence, simply look to the Barnstable High School Drama Club’s production of Fiddler on the Roof.
As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the club reached into history, selecting a well-loved play last performed at the school in 2001.
What makes it just as special this time around is the same enthusiasm, professionalism and dedication the BHS players put into every performance.
Under all the spirit-gummed beards and ragged period costumes, it’s easy to mistake the kids in Fiddler for a much more seasoned group.
Director John Sullivan pulls out all the stops of a Broadway production, turning the BHS Performing Arts Center into a quintessential Russian village and his cast into peasants. Sullivan’s organization and direction take the show to the professional level, and the huge cast of high schoolers from ragtag to remarkable.
Per the Drama Club’s usual, Fiddler is presented traditionally, with plenty of Russian accents, small-town humor and that famous Russian drinking habit.
BHS’s Fiddler is the perfect mix of solemn and silly, befitting a quirky village facing quite a few hard decisions. The players’ true-to-script performances will please theater purists, while everybody-knows-them songs peppered throughout will please the ear of pretty much everyone.
Songs range from tender and touching (Tevye and Golde’s spectacular “Do You Love Me?) to wacky (Tevye’s “If I Were A Rich Man”), and each is performed with gusto and feeling.
Memorable performances by both BHS vets and newcomers create an enjoyable, all-out show befitting a stylish golden celebration.
As the “papa” of a family of six women, Matt Kohler simply stuns with his Tevye. Kohler combines an appropriately extravagant Russian accent with Tevye’s other quirks to create a loveable, laughable main character. Tevye’s decisions regarding his family are painful to watch, while his unique conversations with God are sarcastic and highly amusing.
Don’t miss Kohler’s wacky, wiggly dance, either; the legs-made-of-Jell-O walk and enthusiastic snaps are hilarious and shouldn’t be discounted.
Women of the household Golde, Tevye’s wife, and Tzeitel, his first daughter, bring both the family and the town together with their mix of traditional (Golde’s tendency to invite matchmaker Yente, played by an absolutely wacky Emily Kanzer, to hitch her daughters on a daily basis) and rebellious (Tzeitel’s decision to marry for love).
As the two women, Kelly Mosher and Cait Gardipe, respectively, bring strong voices and strong performances to the stage. Gardipe’s saucy wit and Mosher’s uptight mothering mix perfectly, creating the perfect onstage example of a loving family at odds.
The chemistry between Shane Harris as rebel student Perchick and Rachel Miller as second daughter Hodel is palpable, and Miller’s “Far From the Home I Love” is stirring and altogether beautiful.
Adding even more to Fiddler are performances by Joe Barry as the elderly but still swinging rabbi, Elliot Sicard as Tzeitel’s unassuming husband, Siobhan Magnus as an appropriately shrieky ghost, and the huge cast of traditional villagers that add to each scene they’re in.
The BHS cast loves what they do, and it shows in strong voices and performances throughout. Though the cast’s individual performances are spectacular, what makes Fiddler so successful is the obvious teamwork onstage.
Essential to the production, too, are the costumes, created by a bevy of BHS volunteers and parents. Outfitting a cast of more than 50 in beards, prayer shawls and peasant garb can’t be easy, but each player onstage has a full and realistic costume.
Professional-grade musicians under the director of conductor Michael Gross keep the play moving, missing nary a note. The single instrument of fiddler Ethan Brown, the title character who makes a few appearances onstage, lends a yearning quality to the music that an entire orchestra of fiddles couldn’t.
The play’s set designers, too, deserve a nod for their unique renditions of Tevye’s daydreams (the use of a green screen to create an eerie, ephemeral memory is brilliant) and wonderfully versatile village buildings.
Though each scene, song and speech lends a little something to the whole of Fiddler, the BHS production could have been shortened somewhat to appeal more to playgoers used to shorter shows. At three hours, Fiddler never reaches boring, but some scenes do drag and could have easily been cut. For this reason, Fiddler probably isn’t a great show for the Nickelodeon Jr. set.
Through their sometimes mournful, sometimes zany antics as villagers, the kids in Fiddler teach an important lesson: Traditions can come and go, but the spirit of community is what can keep a little town together.
The BHS Drama Club production of Fiddler on the Roof will show Nov. 23 and 24 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. in the BHS Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 508-771-6246.
Posted by bhsdc at 9:36 AM