Fiddler on the Roof

Date 9th April 2016
Society Devizes Musical Theatre
Venue Dauntsey School Theatre, Market Lavington
Type of Production Musical
Director Peter Nelson
Musical Director Susan Braunton
Choreographer Jacqui Davidson


Author: Matthew Heaton

As Director Peter Nelson detailed in his programme notes, Jerry Block and Sheldon Harnnick’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is one of the most enduring Musicals of the 20th Century.  DMT’s staging of the production was both bold and brave - the audience were set on three sides, with a large white cyc making up the 4th.

The show had a strong principal line-up. Matt Dauncey gave us a very convincing performance as Tevye, the milkman, through whose eyes we view the whole production. I know this is a part he was wanted to play for a very long time and he didn’t disappoint. He looked and acted the part very well, sang very strongly and commanded the stage whenever he was on it. Very well done. Claire Abraham gave a charming performance as Golde and sang well. This was all the more remarkable after her accident on-stage on Thursday night’s performance – a real subscriber to the belief that ‘the show must go on”. Lucy Kibby put in a nicely controlled performance on the tricky part of Tzeitel - tricky as though she is the eldest daughter, the part doesn’t have the big emotional requirements of Hodel or Chava, but still needs to be completely convincing. This was opposite another delightful performance from Simon Hoy as Motel, who nicely captured the charm and inner determination of the character. Naomi Ibbeston excelled in the role Hodel, drawing us into this character’s plight, and as ever sang beautifully.  Sam Phillis put in a good performance as Perchik - his energy and drive carried you with him. Sophie O’Donnell put in the kind of strong performance that ‘Chava’ needs to be convincing. First principal ‘rolers’ - Oliver Chapman (Fyedka) and Ian Diddams (Lazer Wolf) both put in performances that more established performers would be proud of. Well done.  Sue Huntley as Yente also put in a very well-controlled and crafted performance.

Technically this was a very demanding show. The lighting was excellent and atmospheric – we’ll cued, very imaginative and a real highlight of the show. I loved the shadows created through the footlights. The varied colour lighting effects used for the ‘freeze’ scenes in Teyve’s Monologues were nicely executed too. The use of the haze with the lighting for ‘Far from the home I love’ was excellent and the back shadow projection of Julie Maidment’s Fruma Sarah was one of the best versions of this scene I’ve ever seen. Very well done here.

Sound cueing was accurate, controlled and glitch free. Costumes were very good and in keeping with the period chosen for both the Villagers and the Soldiers. Properties were also well-sourced and where they should be.

The floor-based staging gave the Society a great space to use than usual and they certainly made good use of it.  Very well done for getting together such a large cast and how nice to see so many young people too - which bodes well with Footlights for the Society’s future.  Musically, Susan Braunton controlled the band well, who made a good sound despite their numbers and their positioning. The strong chorus singing, which has been a real feature of DMT in recent years was nice again/ On the choreography, Jacqui Davison had worked extremely hard here, particularly with the men. The ‘Bottle Dance’ was a real triumph and the men coped well with the complexity of ‘To Life’.  A nice routine was set for Lucy Thain for ‘Little Bird’ which she executed beautifully. The general chorus movements were in-keeping with the period and were executed well by all.

In Summary, Devizes Musical Theatre should be most pleased with their production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, which was courageous and daring and a real sign of their intent to push forward as a group. There was so much to be proud of, and it really showed how far the Society has come in #recent years.  Well done and thank you for a very enjoyable night out.