“I grew up on Fiddler on the Roof. This production is a gem.”
I grew up on Fiddler on the Roof. In Winnipeg, every time the iconic outdoor theatre, Rainbow Stage was in financial trouble, a new production of Fiddler on the Roof was offered....and each of the four productions (1971, 1977, 1984 and 1993) ensured a full house with every Winnipegger of Jewish or Ukrainian descent dutifully coming to spend an evening watching Cliff Gardner reprise his masterful interpretation of Tevye, the milkman wrestling with change.
I listened to the original Broadway soundtrack driving to Stratford as was hoping this production would do justice to the fine productions I had so enjoyed in Winnipeg, and that honoured the great Broadway original cast production.
Stratford's Fiddler met my expectations, and more.
I was immediately struck by the Marc Chagall-inspired dome above the stage, and realized that the staging would have elements of Chagall's "The Green Violinist," and other well-known works woven into fabric of the production - even perching the Fiddler on the top of the miniature houses, as in the famous painting.
Scott Wentworth, as Tevye, seemed a bit tentative at the beginning, but grew in confidence as the play progressed and proved a wonderful, memorable Tevye. Jennifer Stewart was winning as Tzeitel, but Jacquelyn French broke hearts as she sang 'Far From the Home I Love," as she prepared to join her beloved, Perchik, in Siberia.
The acting was strong, the voices were beautiful, the choreography was first rate, and the dancing was goodish. (I am biased here...some of the very, very best Ukrainian dancers in Western Canada were part of the Rainbow Stage productions, and they SMOKED the "Russian" dancers in the Stratford producation...sorry.)
The only false note in the preview production I saw was the attempt of some actors to affect Eastern European accents. This should be attempted only by Merle Streep or Don Cheadle. Scott Wentworth started to do some kind of accent in the first moments of the production, and perhaps this is what made him seem tentative. As soon as he dropped the attempt at the accent, he was able to inhabit Tevye and not be inhibited by a weird accent. The "Russians" were particularly egregious and the usually terrific Paul Nolan seemed lost in a bad accent, and had no presence as Fyedka - heck, who'd leave everything for a guy who mumbles?
Perhaps, just like the original Broadway cast and the folks at Rainbow Stage, the Stratford Anatevkans should just drop the bad accents and focus on words and music. You can hear "New York" in the voices of the Broadway cast members, particularly Zero Mostel, but soon it is Tevye you hear...not Zero Mostel.
Go see this production. It is very, very good and worth every penny. It is faithful to the original inception of the production, but is still fresh and winning. Get your tickets right away, as they will go quickly (and hopefully have the same effect as a fiscal windfall for Stratford as for Rainbow Stage)!
You will laugh, and you will cry. What more could you want?
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.