Fiddler on the Roof

Description: A Sheffield Theatres production of the musical tale of Tevye the milkman who faces uncontrollable upheaval in the face of impending revolution in 1900s Russia. Starring Henry Goodman. Directed by Lindsay Posner.

Dir: Lindsay Posner, Jerome Robbins (choreography, + Kate Flatt (additional choreography). 
Cast: Henry Goodman, Beverley Klein, Julie Legrand, Victor McGuire, Juliet Alderdice, Natasha Broomfield, Tommy Coles, Steve Fortunes, Damian Humbley, Gareth Kennerley, VIncent Pirillo, Alex Ruocco, Alexandra Silber, Frances Thorburn


‘Fit as a Fiddler’ – Review by Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard  30.05.07

There’s never been much accounting for taste in the subject matter of musicals. The French Revolution and the Vietnam War seemed unlikely enough excuses for a song, but a pogrom-threatened shtetl in pre-revolutionary Russia is something else entirely. Yet Lindsay Posner’s mature, heartfelt, impeccably executed revival, receiving a deserved transfer from Sheffield, is a perfect reminder of why this tune-stuffed show has been fiddling its way to box office gold since 1964.

Posner, nimbly aided by designer Peter McKintosh and choreographer Kate Flatt, constantly underlines the fact that the anchor of Bock, Harnick and Stein’s creation, weightier even than the hummability of If I Were A Rich Man and Matchmaker, is the very specificity of its setting.

With every turn of the versatile wooden slats, we feel we are witnessing an existence that real people actually experienced, rather than a vague, Brigadoon-like unreality conjured up solely for the purposes of musical fiction.

Such a firm grip on time and place is, of course, the ideal launch-pad for mighty universal themes: the challenging of age-old customs and the clash of wills between parents and children. You don’t have to be an early 20th century Ukrainian Jew with Left-leaning sympathies to sob unreservedly when Hodel explains to her distraught father her reasons for moving to Siberia in the achingly simple Far From The Home I Love.

Henry Goodman isn’t Topol but he’s first-rate as Tevye, the genial dairyman and father of a brood of headstrong daughters.

Right from Tradition, the opening number and the show’s definitive statement of intent, Goodman looks to the shtetl born, as he contemplates his hardworking, hen-pecked life with wry humour and a fine singing voice.

However endless asides to the Almighty accompanied by a repertoire of stock gestures constantly threaten to topple Tevye over into caricature and Goodman duly struggles with his gear change into the big emotional crunch scenes of Act II. The visual tics of Woody Allen are not going to be an adequate response to the break-up of both a family and an entire way of life. Elsewhere, Beverley Klein makes a busy but mercifully unfussy materfamilias and Alexandra Silber’s spirited, soulful Hodel ups the daughters’ tunefulness quotient. Shout it with delight from the rooftops: the Fiddler’s back in town.


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