Director – Tee Scatuorchio
Musical Director—James Cunningham
Scenic Designer – Katie Dill
Lighting Designer—Samuel Rushen
Sound Designer – Kyle McCord
Costume Designer – Tammy Spencer
Hair/Wig/Make-Up Designer—Catherine Petty-Rogers
Golde – Mary Gutzi
Yente– Mary Stout
Tzeitel– Sarah Stevens
Lazar Wolf—Greg Dulcie
Nachum—Michael Scott McNay
Grandma Tzeitel—Jeni Roller
Fruma Sarah—Laura Wetsel
Bottle Dancers—Clinton Greenspan, Preston Isham, Michael Scott McNay, Ryan Page
Ensemble—Matt Beutner, Chance Blakeley, Jeremy Coca, Jeremy Dumont, Craig Glen Foster, Clinton Greenspan, Kevin Hartung, Preston Isham, Michael Scott McNay, Ryan Page, Sarah Powell, Bob Reed, Neil Rogers, Jeni Roller, Mikey Sylvester, Jenny Tucker, Laura Wetsel, Samantha Whitbeck
Reviewed Performance 9/26/2015
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Based on a series of short stories of Sholem Aleichem, Tevye and his Daughters was the inspiration of the popular Broadway staple, Fiddler on the Roof. Fiddler on the Roof has lovingly worked its way into the hearts of audiences since its Broadway premiere in 1964. Not only are audiences familiar with the story but, audiences have also been exposed to the music for many years-“Sunrise, Sunset” has become a popular wedding standard, while “Matchmaker” continues to be a popular karaoke favorite. Fiddler on the Roof was even referenced in the popular sitcom, Frasier, as the main character, Frasier, Crane, pretends to be Jewish for the sake of his girlfriend’s mother (who prefers her daughter to date only Jewish men); he brings his brother Niles, into the ruse. As Niles makes toast-using predominantly and overly enthusiastic stereotypical Jewish phrases, like “L’Chaim” and “next year in Jerusalem!” Frasier tells him to “take it down a notch, Tevye.” That provided this musical theatre aficionado with quite the chuckle.
Fiddler on the Roof is told from the perspective of Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman with five daughters. He explains the customs of the Jews in the Russian village of Anatevka in 1905, where without their traditions; their lives would be as “shaky as a Fiddler on the Roof.” Customs, religion and traditions are very important and symbolic in the villagers’ lives. When things start to change, slowly the image and symbolism of the Fiddler dissipates, allowing the audience to anticipate the forthcoming changes in the lives of the people of Anatevka. As one of my favorite musicals of all time, the message and moral of Fiddler is one that carries great meaning: Things never stay the same, and change is inevitable. Not only is this the main theme and message of this story, however, I found this to be true in all aspects of life.
Director Tee Scatuorchio brought together an ensemble cast which worked well together, and collaborated with a crew who clearly took their jobs seriously and knit together scenery, lighting and costumes that enhanced the story being told by these familiar characters. I believe that as audience members, we often have very high expectations for such a familiar musical because we have seen the film version, or perhaps it drums up personal memories. Maybe it was one that our high school theatre department produced while we were students there. The reasons why are quite endless. This interpretation, however, does not disappoint. Mr. Scatuorchio came out of a long hiatus to return to directing, and wonderfully delivers in the role of director, and choreographer for this production.
Set Designer Katie Dill took us into the heart of their world with her transformation of the Casa Mañana stage, turning it into a wonderfully picturesque depiction of Anatevka in 1905 Russia, a small village where traditions and religions are highly honored and respected. There were many surprises that came along with the set and overall design. I was most impressed with the overall first impression of simplicity (the exterior of Tevye’s home) and the allusion of other homes in the village. Then, as the story progressed, the set opened up into many other locations such as Motel’s tailor shop, and the train station. This provided for seamless transitions, and kept the tempo and energy of the plot moving. The best element of set design was seeing Tevye’s home open up-like a pop-up book, revealing the details and daily, traditional life of Tevye, wife Golde, and his five daughters. I was impressed with her attention to detail in creating the details of Anatevka, and by allowing simple changes to take place within the set- and create a many locations within the village. It was very much like seeing several paintings created before the audience on the stage…the colors and texture used in the space really captured the element of history, and was portrayed in an intricate and impressive way.
Lighting was designed by Samuel Rushen. Lighting, like the scenic design, was also very intricate, and executed in a very professional manner. The mood was clearly established as the audience was drawn into the world of the play. It is apparent that there was quite a bit of time and talent devoted to creating the lighting of this production. Often times, I feel that lighting can sometimes be an afterthought, especially in a production as straight-forward as this one. There was a representation of night and day, and time progression, however it was visually pleasing and satisfying to see such lovely colors come to life in the background-specifically the subtle transitions between morning and evening sky during the notable number “Sunrise, Sunset,” and during “Sabbath Prayer.” It was a treat to see some lovely silhouettes of the villagers of Anatevka, with their prayer candles in the background, while the focus was on the Sabbath in Tevye’s home in the foreground. It was a nice contrast to see something very simple project such a dramatic and symbolic moment. It was a very nice touch that certainly added magic to the production. In addition, I also enjoyed seeing consistency within the lighting design-especially during the moments when Tevye would directly communicate some of these thoughts with himself, the audience or when speaking with God. Lighting was well-executed, and was certainly as dramatic as the action on stage.
Costumes were designed by Tammy Spencer. Spencer designed costumes that also worked well with the scenic and the lighting designs. The costumes were very appropriate to the time period, and each actor from the principal actors to those in the ensemble had unique and special details that enhanced their character and importance to the story. Spencer did a phenomenal job of collaborating with the other areas of design, and created a visually pleasing, and a complex design for each character in this production.
Bruce Winant was very remarkable in the role of Tevye. Through facial expressions, an impressive and powerful voice, and a strong presence on stage, Winant convincingly portrayed the definitive Father figure, who longed to hold on to traditions, and to demonstrate his role as the decision maker for his familial brood. Slowly, as the traditions and customs start to slip away, the character of Tevye started to adapt and change-I felt this was depicted very well by Mr. Winant. Tevye can be a very complex character- one with many layers, and angles to his personality. I felt that Mr. Winant was very convincing in this role, and was the epitome of what audiences should expect from an actor portraying this role. I have had the pleasure of seeing many interpretations and productions of Fiddler on the Roof, including a personal favorite of mine- seeing film originator Topol reprise the 1971 film role he became notable for on stage in the 2009 National Tour of Fiddler. For me, Mr. Winant has been one of the best actors to interpret this role, and should be regarded with the same talents as Topol. I thoroughly enjoyed his portrayal of Tevye and feel quite certain that his genuine nature and amusing character will be a treat for all audiences of Fiddler on the Roof. Standout musical numbers of Mr. Winant include the extraordinary rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man,” and the opening audience-pleaser, “Tradition.” I guarantee you will feel pressed to sing along with these familiar favorites-specifically when led by Mr. Winant.
Another standout performance was Mary Stout in the role of Yente, the matchmaker. Ms. Stout was provided quite a bit of humor to the story, with excellent chemistry with her friend, Golde. Stout wonderfully portrayed the comic foil within the group- this is evident in her comic timing and her impressive presence on stage. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Stout’s time on stage as the matchmaker of Anatevka, and feel confident that she will continue to delight audiences with her excellent sense of humor and her lively facial expressions. Fiddler on the Roof is definitely worth seeing. The meticulous and care for detail is evident in all aspects of the production, and makes for a wonderful experience at the theater. It is a production to be enjoyed for audience of all ages. I highly recommend seeing Fiddler on the Roof at Casa Mañana, not only will you be able to see the quintessential Broadway musical (and one that everyone should see), but, you will also be left with many things to think about after the show-the symbolism of the Fiddler, and the shakiness of life without him, and how lives can change at a moment’s notice. You have a very short window to see Fiddler on the Roof at Casa…don’t miss out! To take a quote from Yente, the matchmaker…”Right? Of course, right!”
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
Casa Mañana, 3101 W. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, Texas 76107
Plays through October 4.
September 29-October 1 at 7:30 pm
October 2 at 8:00 pm
October 3 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm
October 4 at 2:00 pm
Ticket prices range from $41.00-$76.00, based on seating. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.casamanana.org or call the box office at 817-332-2272.