OhLook Performing Arts Center
Director – Jill Blalock Lord
Music Direction – James McQuillin
Choreography – Heather Shore and Heather Biddle
Costumes – Jill Blalock Lord, Beth van Amerongen and Kim Payne
Lights and Sound – Jill Blalock Lord
Set Design/Construction – Jill Blalock Lord & Chad Thompson
Justin Brooks – Tevye
Laura Jones – Golde
Kristy Conway – Tzeitel
Kristin Marie Payne – Hodel
Heather Shore – Chava
Olivia Zelling – Shprintze
Samantha Zelling – Bielke
Nancy Lamb – Yente
Preston Isham – Motel
Ivan Lippens – Perchik
James Worley – Lazar Wolf
Ben Frazier – Rabbi
Beau McGary – Mendel
Chad Thompson – Avram
Anne Pratt – Grandma Tzeitel
Sheri Thompson – Shaindel
Wendy Lee Tedmon – Fruma-Sarah
Brian Cook – Fyedka
Ryan King – Sasha
Tre’ John – Constable
Jaydan Thompson – Yussel
Buzz Deitchman – Innkeeper
Jacob Harris – Russian
Elise Emberlin – Fiddler
Ensemble – Sarah Crawford, Caroline Kinnamore, Grace Lord, Emmy Pratt, Katelyn Vinson and Lisa Vinson
Children’s Ensemble – Catherine Andrew, Reilly Buckley, Libby Dodson, Alyssa Ihle, Audrey Payne, Katy Popovitch, Catie Pratt, Kale Thompson, Will Thompson, Anna Vinson,
Matthew Vinson and Kaitlyn Washburn
Reviewed Performance 5/24/2013
Reviewed by Eric Bird, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Tradition is what we fall back on many times throughout our lives. The thought of “It’s always been done this way” have echoed in the minds of people for many years and will for many to come. The idea of tradition is a very different view from what we see here in the western world. What happens when an entire family starts to change their traditions, with the women making their own choices and the men changing their view on how things should be done? This is what Ohlook Performing Arts Center explores in their production of Fiddler on the Roof.
Fiddler on the Roof is based on the stories of Tevye and his daughters
by Sholem Aleichem. Tevye attempts to keep the Jewish traditions of his ancestors alive amidst increasing difficulty, including the choices his three oldest daughters make that move them farther away from tradition, the increasing Russian oppression in Anatevka and Tevye’s friendship with the Constable. This is heightened by the arrival of Perchik with his Western ideologies. The willfulness of the daughters shows a strong resemblance of change brought on by western influence and gives us a precursor to the events the Jews would face a few years in the future.
The musical opened in 1964 and was the first one to have an original run of over 3000 performances. It was very well received, being nominated for ten Tony Awards, winning nine of them, including Best Musical, Score, Book, Direction and Choreography. It was also later made into a movie. This classic musical has touched the hearts of people for many years with its music and the message it teaches about choices and how tenuous life can really be.
Ohlook’s costuming, designed by Jill Blalock Lord, Beth van Amerongen and Kim Payne, was well done though the hair and the makeup seemed a bit off on some characters. Some of the hair styles were too modern while the makeup worn by some of the actors was more current and made it difficult to visualize them in the time period of the show. The use of ear locks on the men was excellent and fit perfectly with the historical context of the play. The men also had prayer shawls and yarmulkes, which showed the town as a very conservative community.
Lighting and sound, designed by Jill Blalock Lord, was appropriate when the scenes were in progress. During the transitions, however, the sound and light operation was seriously lacking. The light cues were sometimes early, sometimes late; this was distracting in the show and pulled me out of the world of the play. The lighting was inconvenient at times and some of the cues were entirely unnecessary.
The audio was for the most part fine throughout but at times it got too quiet, making it impossible to hear some of the dialogue and even lyrics to the songs.
Jill Blalock Lord and Chad Thompson’s set design was simple, though it mostly fulfilled its intended purpose. The use of the main door on the set was very useful to show the varied locations in the show, and the use of set pieces to further define each worked well for the most part, though sometimes the lines were blurry as to where the characters were throughout the play - outside Tevye’s house, in the bar or on the street. Also, the lack of curtains to cover the back of the stage left the actors visible after exiting the main door and while leaving the stage along the back wall, all of which pulled me out of the story each time.
Director Jill Blalock Lord’s blocking of the smaller scenes looked good, but during the group numbers movement was difficult due to the sheer number of people and the size of the stage. This too drew the attention away from the important substance of the play, making it difficult to follow the storyline. Many times the actors hovered at the front of the stage which showed a lack of inventive blocking and made it difficult to believe what was happening onstage. It felt as if the actors were playing to the audience instead of portraying their characters within the play.
The choreography created by Heather Shore and Heather Biddle was interesting to see. I enjoyed how they effectively used the traditional movement of the dances done in Hebrew culture. The main issues with the choreography were with the timing and the actors being uncertain of the steps. Many times actors looked at each other to see what they were supposed to do while at the same time being a full step behind the rest of the ensemble. The unfamiliarity took away from the realism. There were some dances that were enjoyable to watch, such as “Rich Man,” and the solo ballet piece that Chava did during the “Chava sequence”
Justin Brooks, playing Tevye, created a believable character who tells
the story of what is happening in his life. I enjoyed his narrative and his communicating with God about the circumstances he was going through. Brooks was a very strong presence onstage and captivated the audience with his skills, though there were times when I felt he could go even further with his character choices. “Tradition” was an especially enjoyable song to see him perform.
Tzeitel, played by Kristy Conway, and Motel, played by Preston Isham, had two of the most captivating storylines of the play. The range of emotion the actors managed to portray for the trials of their characters made for a very believable performance.
When Isham sang “Miracle of Miracles” I could feel the happiness in his expression, which made this a beautiful, heart-touching scene. Tzeitel did a very good job with “Matchmaker” and added an enormous depth to her character.
Hodel, played by Kristin Marie Payne, and Perchik, played by Ivan Lippins, were enjoyable to watch, especially when they sang “Now I Have Everything”. I could see how the characters felt about each other and the difficulty they felt when they faced Tevye with their plans to get married. The scene was realistically portrayed by both.
Nancy Lamb played Yente and gave another standout performance. She made many good choices with her character and captured perfectly the feel of the nosy old lady that never lets anyone get a word in edge-wise. She was very fun to watch as she interacted with the other characters onstage, especially when she stole potatoes from Golde and how she appeared at random times to talk someone’s ear off.
Wendy Lee Tedmon’s Fruma-Sarah captured the audience with her presence
onstage. Her dancing was very believable during “The Dream”. As the former wife of Lazar Wolf her character choices were strong and interesting. I also enjoyed the amount of space that she had to perform.
I only wish that I had been able to hear her singing. I could hear bits and pieces, and those parts that I heard sounded amazing, however most of the song was too quiet to make out the words.
In general, the acting was, unfortunately, difficult to believe since the actors didn’t seem to be fully engaged in their characters. They didn’t see them as their reality, and instead seemed to be focused on “performing” as actors in a show instead of “being” the characters.
I could see a lot of potential in them that wanted to shine through, but either through the direction or inexperience, they lacked that extra effort.
Overall, Ohlook Performing Arts Center’s version of Fiddler on the Roof had some good moments and some bad. It was great to see some of the more traditional aspects of Jewish ideology and the things that their people went through; though as a performance it was lacking many aspects that could have made this show an extremely compelling piece.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
Ohlook Performing Arts Center
Last week through June 1st
Remaining performances at MCL Grand, 100 North Charles St., Lewisville, TX 75057
Friday & Saturday at 7:30pm & Saturday matinee at 2:30pm.
Tickets are $15.00-$20.00.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to http://www.ohlookperform.com/ or call their box office at 817-421-2825.