I’ve just been to see Fiddler on the Roof at our local venue, The Wharf. It’s a local amateur production by the Tavistock Musical Theatre Company. And I’m much impressed: in fact I think it’s probably the best show I’ve ever seen at the Wharf (a typical “little theatre” that shows more films than anything else, but occasionally gets a real production).
The company was clearly stronger in theatre than in music: the acting impressed me pretty much throughout, and the production was excellent (apart from the view sometimes being problematic from the lower part of the auditorium). But few of the performers had singing voices that could compete with the (tiny) orchestra, and a few were sadly weak. Having said that, the MD and his musicians were not bad!
Visually it ranged from good to fantastic. Costumes, lighting and staging all worked well, and some of the scenes were particularly memorable. The lighting in the wedding scene. The nightmare scene – perhaps the #1 highlight of the production, with a real tour de force from the ghost!
In parts it was also startling and thought- provoking: a production for our times. The violence of Perchik and Hodel’s first dance made up for both of their singing voices being largely inaudible, and the point in the wedding scene where Perchik gets beaten up by the Russians was truly brutal. Motel’s cowering wimp was utterly credible, and impressively terrified as he put the question to Tevye.
Of course, the anchor for the whole show is Tevye. After a slightly suspect start, he got into his stride, and was well on top of the part – one of the most demanding and rewarding anywhere in the “light opera” repertoire! His relationships with his family (including his real-life wife, another nice performance) and his god all came across very well, drawing the story along.
Now, that leaves one question. Why wasn’t I in it? I’ve taken part in two productions of this show, but this is the first time I’ve seen it from an audience seat. I clearly haven’t been getting out enough. I blame the fact that my musical life was already centred in Plymouth before I moved in to Tavistock last year, but that’s no excuse. I must follow this up by making contact with the group!