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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fiddler On The Roof @ Stage West Calgary

Stage West Calgary
Fiddler On The Roof

photo courtesy of Stage West Calgary
The Saturday Morning "Before-Noon" Theatre Review:

Fiddler On The Roof

at Stage West Calgary
(until June 22)

4.5 of 5 stars

Bringing an enduring Broadway classic to Stage West Calgary always seems to pay off, no less so than with the current production opening this week, Fiddler On The Roof.

A large cast of highly capable actors and singers, stunning choreography, along with the beloved storyline of a man and his family as they struggle with faith, tradition, desire and all that the world seems to keep throwing at them - well, it all makes for a night of musical theatre that will bring back warm memories if you've seen this over the years, or introduce new viewers to the power of a compelling story.

Of course, you can't mention Fiddler without the central figure, Tevye the poor dairyman and father of five girls that are, at this moment in time, about to force him to confront all that he knows of the world he is struggling to raise his family in.

Victor A. Young brings Tevye to life - the faith of the man, the love for his life despite the challenges that are always present, and the love of his family, even as he has to compromise in the face of what is clearly a world in upheaval for people of those older traditions.

It doesn't hurt that he can sing the heck out of the songs that have become Broadway gold over the last 50 years...

Yes, with a rich songbook, most anyone in the audience will know many of these songs, even if one may have come their way via Gwen Stefani. If you're like me, this probably isn't the first time you've seen this heartwarming, emotional story live on a stage. The level of talent is what will likely win you over.

Helping Tevye share his story with the audience are some strong female characters - Gabrielle Jones as his wife Golde. Natascha Girgis directly from her role just a few weeks ago in "Unnecessary Farce", here as the personally un-matched matchmaker. Yente is slowly coming to the realization that her career path may be in need of rethinking in the face of strong-willed women choosing their own happiness, over the traditions of their upbringing. As the first to diverge from those traditions and force Tevye to allow for freewill over paths chosen by parents, Elena Porter is the eldest daughter Tzeitel. 

All of these women (and many others) are led by another - director Elizabeth Stepkowski Tarhan - keeping a tight rein on the vast cast, and the extensive storyline that has to be contained within two acts. Tarhan is best known here in Calgary for her powerhouse vocals ("Glorious", "Chicago"), however she makes this a tight and captivating affair from the director's chair. 

There is so much that goes on in this show. All the suitors to Tevye's daughters and the various people of the village. Dream sequences that fill the stage. A brilliant dance segment (choreographer Phil Nero), and the able band helmed by musical director Konrad Pluta that brings all the foundation to the dreams and desires in the songs and the characters.

I'll have a link here when my official Calgary Herald review is in the newspaper and live online - plus I look forward to sitting down with some of the cast members for my interview series. That said, I'm hoping you get the gist of what this production offers. 

50 years later, that Fiddler On The Roof is as sure-footed as ever, and this production will either introduce you to the story for the first time, or bring back warm memories from what you already knew of it...




Mrs That Dan Guy said...

An incredible job. Unforgettable talent in the vocals of the lead characters. And oh so wonderful to hear those tunes again. And still heartwarming to this day.

ThatDanGuy said...

Agreed, kind stranger!