By Beki Pineda
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. Music by Jerry Bock; lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; book by Joseph Stein; directed by Michael J. Duran. Produced by BDT Stage (55th Street and Arapahoe Avenue) through Feb. 28, 2015. Tickets available at www.bouldersdinnertheatre.com or 303-449-6000.
Sometimes when you are reviewing theater productions, you have to take a quantum leap of faith by covering a show you’ve never seen or heard of. And then sometimes you get to visit old friends—like Tevye and his family. It’s especially nice when a gifted performer like Wayne Kennedy plays the beleaguered Tevye and the glowing Shelly Cox-Robie plays his wife, Golde. These two were born to these roles, and watching them perform the sweet, tentative “Do You Love Me” is to watch perfection on stage.
Their whole family of five girls are beautifully acted, sung and danced by Jessica Hindsley, Rebekah Ortiz, Sarah Grover, and a combination of four young girls as the youngest two daughters. Adding equally to the excellence of the production are the three suitors. Brett Ambler plays Motel, the tailor who has loved the oldest daughter since they were children. They provide the first step away from the tradition that governs the lives of the citizens of Anatevka. By not agreeing to the marriage arranged by Yente the Matchmaker (a wonderful Barb Reeves) and allowing the heart to rule, Tevye’s family steps onto a slippery slope.
Second daughter Hodel is captivated by the intelligence and humor of political activist Perchik, played by a passionate Burke Walton. It forces Tevye to face the fact that God has become the matchmaker in his world. But the third daughter’s love is too much to bear, even for the forgiving Tevye. She falls in love with a hated Russian soldier, played and danced by Matt LaFontaine. Tevye’s grief is palpable and threatens the very real practical relationship he has with God. His ability to see both sides of a situation—”on the other—is strained to the breaking point.
Director Duran has put together an ensemble 26 strong that fills the stage for the group numbers and provides a dense dance corps which is beautifully choreographed by Alicia Dunfee using traditional steps. Their voices fill the theater; their emotion touches the audience.
Amy Campion’s sleek stylistic set allows for smooth transitions between scenes and lends a universal quality to the 50-year-old story.
At first glance, FIDDLER seems an unlikely choice for a holiday-season show. But the emphasis on family and tradition soon makes it clear why this production is appropriate. How long has it been since you’ve visited Anatevka? You won’t get a tan—there’s no beach—but it will certainly warm your heart.
WOW factor: 9