Reviewed by Christine Charlesworth
On Tuesday 22 October I visited the New Victoria Theatre in Woking to review Fiddler on the Roof, the well-known and popular stage musical which boasts over 3,000 performances since its premier in 1964. This new touring production, from the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, will be on tour until the end of April 2014.
Full of marvellous humour and wit the whole story is brought alive and we are immediately transported to the small village of Anatevka in 1905 Tsarist Russia inhabited by a very real community. The superbly orchestrated music is played by the whole multi-talented cast of 19 under the musical direction of Sarah Travis. There is a real fiddler, high up on the roof, a clarinet player and a cellist below and dance scenes including a double bass, accordion and an oboe. The imaginative set is quickly transformed and the costumes and lighting are excellent.
The lead role of Tevye is played by Paul Michael Glaser, who also played the role of Perchik in the 1971 classic film version of this musical, starring Topol, in 1971. Glaser is best known for playing David Starsky in the iconic TV show Starsky & Hutch but he has appeared in over 50 theatre roles as well as various films and also has many directorial film credits. Glaser, now aged 70, plays his part with warmth and eccentricity, his singing is strong, his dancing light and his comic timing perfect. This is a part that Glaser has wanted to play for years and it fits him to perfection.
Tevye, a poor milkman in pre-revolutionary Russia has always been very traditional. He has five daughters whose marriages are expected to be arranged, as tradition, by the village matchmaker. But the daughters have other ideas.
Emily O’Keefe, Liz Singleton and Claire Petzal are a delight as the three older daughters, as are Jon Trenchard and Steven Bor, the boys they want to marry. Jennifer Douglas played her fiddle with great spirit and the rest of the cast added to the rich orchestral sound throughout.
Director and Choreographer Craig Revel Horwood (well-known Strictly Come Dancing judge) shows that he is certainly master of the musical in this production, layering it with comedy and movement, together with echoes of some of the choreography from Jerome Robbins’ original production.
This is a near perfect production of Fiddler on the Roof. Heartfelt performances give a feeling of a real community, bonded by music, sadness, humour and passion.
Every member of the audience stood to give applause at the end of the 3 hour long performance. I would certainly recommend this as a show to see.
Tickets to see Fiddler on the Roof at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking cost from £17.90 to £43.40 (plus £2.85 transaction fee). To book tickets click here.