|FIDDLER ON THE ROOF|
If you revive it, they will come. Or so Broadway producers seem to feel about “Fiddler on the Roof,” which is revisiting the Great White Way for the fifth time after its original eight-year run (1964-1972). But no matter how often you’ve seen this classic Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick-Joseph Stein musical – and especially if you never have – run to the Broadway Theatre. Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher has crafted the most authentic, dramatically compelling version of this show I’ve ever seen.
If somehow you’re expecting a feel-good tuner, think twice. Stein’s brilliant book (taken from the stories of Sholom Alechem) has plenty of laughter, but its fair share of tears as well. It tells of the daily joys and struggles of the villagers of Anatevka (cleverly rendered by Michael Yeargan), a small town in Russia where the clash between local Jews and the ruling gentiles ultimately come to an unpleasant head. Sher zeroes on the all-too-timely political message of the story, while simultaneously keeping the focus where it belongs -- on Tevye (the remarkable Danny Burstein) and his family.
Burstein’s portrayal of the local milkman is masterful. He transforms over three hours from the sort of seemingly simple soul who would be popular in this sort of town to a man who retains his kindness yet becomes somewhat hardened by the circumstances of his life, including the loss of daughter Hodel (the superb Samantha Massell) who follows true love Perchik (a forceful Ben Rappaport) to Siberia, and the marriage of another daughter Chava (an affecting Melanie Moore) to the non-Jewish Fyedka (a lovely Nick Rehrberger). Burstein’s work is not as outsized as many of predecessors in the role, including Zero Mostel, Topol, and Harvey Fierstein, but it feels completely lived-in.
It helps that he has excellent chemistry with the always wonderful Jessica Hecht as his often shrewish, world-weary wife Golde. The pair’s version of “Do You Love Me?”, even when more spoken than sung, is one of the show’s musical highlights. While there are many strong singers in the cast, notably Alexandra Silber as eldest daughter Tzeitel and Adam Kantor as her nebbishy husband Motel the Tailor, Sher isn’t interested in turning the show’s unforgettable songs into traditional showstoppers – many seamlessly flow into the next scene.
His biggest production numbers are the hilarious “Tevye’s Dream,” extraordinarily costumed by the great Catherine Zuber (and featuring scene-stealing work by Jessica Vosk as Fruma Sarah), and “To Life,” in which Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter gets to make maximum use of his evocative modern dance moves that subtly but convincingly take their cues from original choreographer Jerome Robbins.
And yet Sher’s smallest moments may be what you remember, from Golde’s goodbye to local matchmaker Yente (a hilarious Alix Korey) to Tevye’s interactions with frenemy Lazar Wolf (the fine Adam Dannheisser) or the two-faced local constable (Karl Kenzler). Or, you may just simply leave humming “Tradition” or “Sunrise, Sunset.” The important message is that in order to leave, first you have to go see the show. To not do so would be as crazy as a fiddler on the roof.
By Brian Scott Lipton
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Danny Burstein, Jessica Hecht, Adam Kantor, Julie Benko, Adam Dannheisser, Karl Kenzler, Melanie Moore, Nick Rehberger, Eric Bourne, Jacob Guzman, Alix Korey, Jesse Kovarsky, Reed Luplau, Brandt Martinez, Samantha Massell, Sarah Faye Parker, Marla Phelan, George Psomas, Ben Rappaport , Alexandra Silber, Jessica Vosk, Silvia Vrskova, Jonathan Royse Windham, Aaron Young
Preview Open/ Preview Close Dates
Preview Opening 11/20/2015
New York, NY 10019