Fiddler On The Roof

Date 13th November 2012
Society Bishops Stortford Musical Theatre Company
Venue Rhodes Art Centre, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire
Type of Production Musical
Director Jim Snell
Musical Director Stephen Kenna
Choreographer Jim Snell


Author: Sue Hartwell

As we entered the auditorium, we were greeted with the iconic view of the young fiddle player sitting on the roof of "Tevye"s little wooden house on an open stage, depicting the small Jewish community in the village of Anatevka in 1905's Russia. Thus was the scene set for this well-known, but rather sad, story of the village milkman and his struggle to maintain the traditions of his faith, race and culture against the growing threat from both local Tsarist forces and within his family, with his three eldest daughters' rebellion against arranged marriage. The demanding role of "Tevye" was well portrayed by Mike Sykes, who gave us a powerful but whimsical characterisation, with Anthea Kenna as his argumentative, but loyal, wife "Golde". The three daughters and their suitors were all well matched. I particularly liked the duo of eldest daughter "Tzeitel" (Mary Gibson) and "Motel" the tailor (Luke Weller), who managed to add a little lightness in their attempts to flout with Jewish tradition and marry for love, despite the village matchmaker "Yentle"'s efforts (played by Ann Senior). The music for "Fiddler On The Roof" is mournful, but somehow enduring and was tunefully played by the small orchestra under the expert direction of Stephen Kenna. The majority of principals were confident in both dialogue and vocals but, sadly, this was not the case with some of the company numbers. The setting for "Sunrise, Sunset", one of the most poignant numbers of this musical, was over-crowded and lacked inspiration. The men's chorus, too, seemed a little "off-key" and hesitant in their delivery. In contrast, the "Sabbath Prayer" scene earlier in Act 1 had been quite evocative and "Tevye's Dream" one of the few "light-hearted" moments. Overall, the performance lacked vitality and pace. Although it is appreciated that most musical theatre groups have limited "get-in" and technical rehearsal time prior to opening night, this was sadly evident in the timing of the scene changes and had the effect of slowing down the whole performance. The costume and properties plots were, in the main, authentic to the period, but the footwear for the male principals and chorus, apart from boots for "Tevye" and the Russian soldiers, was modern, moulded, trainer-like shoes and the "Rabbi" even wore brown ones! By the end of the evening, I was left feeling slightly disappointed, as this talented musical theatre company usually deliver a very high quality performance. However, as this was only the second night, I'm confident that the standard improved as the week progressed.