Fiddler on the Roof at TPAC
Fiddler on the Roof at TPAC
On Tuesday, I took a short step away from the classical music world, and enjoyed a magical night of Broadway! TPAC is currently rounding out its season with the classic Fiddler on the Roof, a story of a Jewish dairyman, his five rebellious daughters, and the deeper struggles of a Jewish community in early 20th century Russia. Fiddler is well-known and well-loved by many, and this company certainly “raised the roof” with their energetic and heartfelt performance.
The show opened on Tevye (played by Yehezkel Lazarov) , the dairyman, as he explained the traditions of the Jewish community in the village of Anatevka. From the moment he spoke his first lines, it was clear Mr. Lazarov was perfect for this role and would tell the story with tons of charisma. The scene then unfolded into a full-cast musical number
(“Tradition”), which was the true moment the audience was captivated for the night. It was quite a wall of sound, with timbres and harmonies absolutely perfect for a Broadway show.
Next came “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” which featured the eldest three of Tevye’s daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava. The chemistry between the three women onstage was phenomenal, and perfectly captured the quarreling of siblings as well as the genuine fear of having no say in an arranged marriage.
Shortly after, we transitioned to arguably the most famous scene of the entire show, “If I Were a Rich Man,” which was yet another opportunity to showcase Tevye’s personality. While there was a note of sincerity that rang true the entire time, the scene was full of a playful sort of sarcasm that really brought everything together and made it interesting. It was nearly impossible to look away while Mr. Lazarov was onstage.
The next notable moment of Act I, and quite possibly my favorite scene of the entire production, was “Tevye’s Dream,” in which he recounts a false dream to his wife Golde in order to ease her into the idea of Tzeitel marrying Motel, a poor tailor that Tzeitel loves, as opposed to Lazar Wolf, a rich butcher arranged by the Matchmaker. The chorus was outfitted in grotesque costumes to resemble Golde’s deceased ancestors, and many were on stilts in order to appear larger than life. It was truly frightening and so different than the rest of the show, which made for an breathtaking scene. Olivia Gjurich, who played the dead wife of Lazar Wolf, harnessed a kind of chaotic energy perfect for the scene, and had the vocal technique to pull it off wonderfully. I truly wish that we could have seen more of her in a solo role!
Act I ended with Tzeitel and Motel’s wedding, which was complete with truly impressive dance numbers! All of the extended dance sequences throughout the show were high-energy and athletically challenging, and it was truly a treat to behold! The tensions between the Jewish community and the Russian law enforcement presence came to a head in this scene, with the soldiers and Constable (played by Jeff Brooks) participated in a small pogrom at the wedding. Mr. Brooks held character extremely well and instilled a sense of fear in everyone in the audience, reminding everyone of the overarching conflict in the show. It felt a bit strange to clap after the seriousness of this scene, but Act I was too fantastic to not show any appreciation.T
Act II opened with Tevye’s second daughter, Hodel, announcing that she will be marrying Perchik, a traveling student and radical that has been staying with the family. This goes against all previous traditions, but after another passionate monologue, Tevye agreed to the union. The chemistry between Hodel (played by Ruthy Froch) and Perchik (played by Ryne Nardecchia) was fantastic, and it was quite sad that we did not get to see more of them together onstage!
After this one happy moment, Act II definitely took a turn for the darker, with Tevye’s third daughter Chava, announcing that she wishes to marry Fyedka, one of the Russian officers in the town. Although Tevye accepted many things that went against tradition, marrying outside of the Jewish faith was too far. While Mr. Lazarov kept his role pretty
light-hearted, he transitioned perfectly to an angry, broken character as he announced his daughter was “dead to him.” It was an extremely emotional performance, and perfectly captured the struggle between tradition and acceptance.
The show continued down this darker path, with the conflict ending with the entire village in Tevye’s barn as the Russian authorities close in, informing them all that they must sell their properties and leave the village in three days. All of the actors in the company perfectly captured this shift in mood, and effectively showed that nearly all other conflicts pale in comparison to this. The show ends with everyone in the village packing their homes and leaving, discussing their destinations and saying what are clearly their final goodbyes. Tevye even seems to concede and accept his daughter Chava once again, although the family is separated in the end. Much like Act I, it feels a bit strange to clap at the end of this show, but it is truly effective in creating such a strong feeling of sadness and fear.
All in all, this was a stellar performance of Fiddler on the Roof. The cast was wonderful, particularly the leads, and the show featured so many amazing dance numbers and such powerful chemistry between actors (namely Tevye and Golde)! The sets and costumes were also beautiful and fitting, and really added the final touch to the acting and music. Aside from a few minor problems that can easily be chalked up to it being opening night, it was one of the better productions that I have seen. I cannot think of a better way for TPAC to end their season.
The show runs through Sunday, June 30, with two performances on Saturday and Sunday. I assure you that it is well-worth seeing!
Allison Centobene is a flutist and aspiring archivist in the Middle Tennessee area.