. Fiddler on the Roof, a Curtainup Berkshires review CurtainUp
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A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
Fiddler on the Roof

"I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't You choose someone else? "—Tevye (to God).

" He loves her. Love, it's a new style. . .On the other hand, our old ways were once new, weren't they?. . .On the other hand, they decided without parents, without a matchmaker. . .On the other hand, did Adam and Eve have a matchmaker?. . . Well, yes, they did. And it seems these two have the same Matchmaker!"
Teyve in one of his many " on the other hands" contemplations.
Brad Oscar
(Photo: Kevin Sprague)
What a way for Barrington Stage to launch its 2012 Main Stage season! Broadway veteran Brad Oscar as a brilliantly nuanced Teyve, with more than two dozen performers to play his wife, five daughters, their suitors and other Anatevkians. And "miracle of miracles" — each one a standout, as is Jerome Robbins original choreography as vividly reproduced by director-choreographer Gary John LaRosa. Barrington Stage has a history of beautifully staged classic musicals, this season's Fiddler On the Roof, is the best ever, as close to perfection as you can get.

Of course, Fiddler. . . is one of the musical theater's greatest and most indestructible shows, and inspired collaboration for musicalizing Scholem Aleichem's stories by librettist (Joseph Stein), composer (Jerry Bock) and lyricist (Sheldon Harnick). The famous milkman's "on the other hand " ruminations, the richness of the book, the gorgeous songs and vivid dances make even a production that doesn't shine on all counts failure proof. Still, it's a thrill to see everything so gloriously realized by this company.

Like Teyve and his family and neighbors, Barrington Stage's founder and artistic director Julianne Boyd has wandered from the company's startup in a bar, to various temporary locations, the Sheffield High School auditorium to her own beautifully restored home in Pittsfield (two homes, if you count their newly owned nearby Second Stage). BS's journey adds a special touch of poignancy to Teyve's exodus from Anatevka which inevitably chokes me up,. Watching Brad Oscar and company wander into the unknown on this stage does underscore that this sad ending is also hopeful since so many families like Teyve's found safe havens where they could thrive-— and even start up theater companies., or become actors and directors, to prove it, Barrington Stage has compiled a brochure included with the program in which the Fiddler director, music director and cast share their family stories.

Given the standout studded cast it's impossible to sing everyone's praises. So let's start with Brad Oscar, who after winning a Tony for playing the nutty Nazi Franz Liebkind in The Producers took over the starring role of Max Bialystock. True to the tradition he espouses in his opening number, the bald-headed , big-voiced Oscar brings a fine blend of musical comedy performance skill and warmth to his performance. His delivery of the "on the other hand" talks with God is terrifically funny. He is also incredibly poignant as he segues from anger to acceptance of his daughters' tradition breaking choices which trigger his own "Do You Love Me? " with his wife (Johann Glushack, as a superbly realized Goldie who has great chemistry with Oscar). The final image of Oscar's Teyve conveys the bitterness, sadness and determination that that send him pushing his horseless wagon on its journey out of Anatekva.

The three tradition breaking older daughters (Rebecca Kuznick, Stephanie Lynne Mason and, Dawn Rother) are all charmers. and the actors playing the men they fall in love with are also ideally cast. Alexander Levin's fiery revolutionary Perchik is especially charismatic. Also outstanding is Jason Simon as Lazar Wolf, the rich suitor bested by the poor tailor despite Yente (Rachel Coloff), the matchmaker's best efforts.

I could go on, but you get the idea. From Oscar's central character to the minor villagers, everyone contributes to the overall enjoyment. With Barrington Stage's long time music director Darren Cohen on board, the score is pure heaven. Michael Bottari and Ronald Case have created true to period and place costumes in a pleasingly soft palette. Jack Mehler's fairly abstract set with its flexible exterior and interior house works very well to accommodate the large cast and numerous production numbers. The "Sabbath Prayer " scene, with Teyve's family inside their house and other family groups clustered all around showcases Jeff Davis's subtle lighting.

As for the dance numbers, given the stunning "Bottle Dance" and the "Wedding Dance" in which the entire village, including Teyve's own joyous break with tradition to dance with Golde, I''m hard pressed to pick a favorite.

The only downside to this Fiddler is that, like all summer theater, this is a limited run so see it while you can — and bring the kids. This is a show for people of all faiths, nationalities and ages.
For a list of the songs, see Curtainup's review of Fiddler's last Broadway production

Fiddler On the Roof
Book by Joseph Stein
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Based on Sholem Aleichem’s stories by special permission of Arnold Perl
Music Direction by Darren R. Cohen
Directed & Choreographed by Gary John La Rosa
Cast:Brad Oscar (Tevye),Joanna Glushak (Golde), their daughters: Rebecca Kuznick (Tzeitel), Stephanie Lynne Mason (Hodel), Dawn Rother (Chava), Emma Grace Foley (Shprinze), Abigail Schilling (Bielke); Adam Brown (Bottle Dancer/Sasha), Erica Cenci (Grandma Tzeitel/ Rivka), Jesse Coleman (Avram), Rachel Coloff (Yente), Michael J. Farina (Mordcha), Ben Holtzman (Nachum), Colin Israel (Motel), Hannah Kiem (Fredel), Danny Harris Kornfeld (Yussel), Alexander Levin (Perchik), Andrew Mayer (The Fiddler), Meagan Michelson (Mirala), Taylor Hilt Mitchell (Schloime/Bottle Dancer/Boris), Rusty Mowery (Yakov/ Bottle Dancer/ Vradek), Travis Nesbitt (fyedka), Matthew Richard (Mendel/Bottle Dancer), Michael Scott (Constable), Jason Simon (Lazar Wolf), Gordon Stanley (Rabbi), Rebecca Stavis (Fruma/Shandel,Motel's Mother),
Scenic Design: Jack Mehler
Costumes: Michael Buttari and Ronald Case
Lighting: Jeff Davis
Sound: Ed Chapman
Director of production: Jeff Roundabush
Stage Manager: Renee Lutz
Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes plus one intermission.
Barrington Stage Company, 30 Union Street, Pittsfield, Mass.413) 236-8888; http://www.barringtonstageco.org
7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; Matinees, 2 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 5 p.m Sunday
June 13 t toJuly 14.
Tickets: $16-$62
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer on June 23rd
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