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Riverside Dinner Theater Fiddler on The Roof

By • Jan 26th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Fiddler on The Roof
Riverside Dinner Theater
Riverside Dinner Theater, Fredericksburg, VA
Through March 4th
2:40 with one intermission
$50-$58/$46-$52 Seniors/$40 Children
Reviewed January 25th, 2012

Fiddler on The Roof is a musical with book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. At the turn of the century a group of Russian Jews work together to eke out a meager living in the little village of Anatevkah. Tevye, his wife, and five daughters, live, love, and laugh among the other poor peasants in the small town. Life is hard, but survivable until the Russian Constable announces they must all leave the only home they have known. A heartwarming story about the hardships, and perseverance of group of people who are pushed down, but not destroyed.

We spent an enjoyable afternoon at the Riverside Dinner Theatre in Fredericksburg this afternoon. The cast of 26 performers sang and danced into your hearts and homes using a great balance of emotion and energy.

James Lawson’s (Tevye) commanding voice and presence grabbed you from the start. His love of tradition appears to be what keeps him going throughout the performance. He comes across at times rough and gruff, yet his act did not fool anyone. Especially his wife Golde (Andrea Kahane), their five daughters, and their daughters’ suitors. Each knew Tevye was the leader, butt Golde ran the home. Her no nonsense exterior gave way to a heart of gold. Her love for her daughters was fierce as was her desire to see them happy. When Tevye’s third daughter married outside the faith and he could not stretch any farther, it was Golde who kept the line of communication open. In the end the big teddy bear softened somewhat and hope was again born.

Tevye’s three oldest daughters, Tzeitel (Mary Anne Furey), Hodel (Jacqueline Reynolds), and Chava (Analisa Wall) all gave strong performances. Tzeitel was the first to break tradition by announcing her engagement to Motel, a poor tailor with no money and limited backbone. Played by Matt Macis, Motel Komzoil did manage to stand up to Tevye when it counted. The couple had a strong chemistry between them that made them easy to like. Hodel, the second daughter was a bit fiery and willing to share her opinion, around certain people. One such person was Perchik, the free-thinking student from Kiev, played by Dylan Rzepka. He had some really radical ideas and was not afraid to share them. His emotions were as real as was his love for Hodel. The third daughter Chava was perhaps Tevye’s favorite. In the moving song “Chavaleh” he sings of her as his little bird. Wall is tenderhearted, but makes the final break that is too much for Tevye to stand when she marries Fyedkah, a Russian soldier. Although a small part, Arthur J. Wittenberger as Fyedkah is kind and hurt by the violence going on in the village of Anatevka.

Set Designer Gregg Hillmar made all of the various set pieces easy to move and, though simple, conveyed the appearance of poor, but sturdy dwellings. The large stage area made for plenty of room for the complicated dances choreographed by Dennis J. Clark. The Bottle Dance at the wedding of Tzeitel and Motel was intricate and well done. The song “L’chiam” showed that two groups of very different people could be brought together with music. The costumes were period appropriate and costumer Lilly Cleary made sure that the peasants of the village wore muted colors, mostly browns and off-whites and that the Russians wore stark military uniforms and black boots.

A delightful show with a solid cast, and a message that the human spirit can never be shattered.

Director’s Notes

Welcome to the Riverside Center and its inaugural production of 2012. Based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem, Fiddler on the Roof chronicles the journey of Tevye, a Russian Jewish dairy farmer, whose effort to “scratch out a pleasant simple tune” is in constant conflict with the continuing discordant notes of bigotry, poverty, and assault on his beloved traditions.

Recognized throughout the world as one of the great musical plays of the 20th century, this endearing and enduring tale has been produced in more than 32 countries and 16 languages, and was the recipient of 9 Tony Awards in 1965, among them: Best Musical, Best Score (Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock), Best Book of a Musical (Joseph Steins), Best Director (Jerome Robbins), and Best Choreographer (Jerome Robbins).

The universal themes of family, hardship, community, and the effort to maintain a balance in an increasingly complex world, allow Fiddler to remain relevant 50 years after its inception and will, I believe, allow its relevance 50 years into the future.

I marvel at the resilience of Tevye’s fellow inhabitants of Anatevka. I revel in their eccentricities and applaud their courage in the face of unrelenting hostility. My hope is that you will come to love their nobility as much as I do. L’chaim!

Photo Gallery

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Photos provided by Riverside Dinner Theater

Cast

  • Tevye, the Dairyman: James E. Lawson
  • Golde, his Wife: Andrea Kahane
  • Motel Kamzoil, the Tailor: Matt Macis
  • Tzeitel,Tevye’s first daughter, Motels intended: Mary Anne Furey
  • Hodel, Tevye’s second daughter: Jacqueline Reynolds
  • Chava, Tevye’s third daughter: Analisa Wall
  • Yente, the Matchmker: Teri Campbell
  • Perchik, the Student: Dylan Rzepka
  • Lazar Wolf, the Butcher: Alex Balian
  • Fyedka, a Russian Solder: Arthur J. Whittenberger
  • Mordcha, the Innkeeper: Douglas Wall
  • The Rabbi: Robert Beard
  • Mendel, the Rabbi’s son: Alan Schlichting
  • Shaindel, Motel’s Mother: Stefannie Smith
  • Herschel, Motel’s younger brother: Stephen Thompson
  • The Constable: David McConnell
  • Sasha, Fyedka’s Compadre: Michael R. Colby
  • Vlad, Fyedka’s Compadre: Kevin Cleary
  • Sprintze, Tevye’s fourth daughter: Rachel Thompson
  • Bielke, Tevye’s fifth daughter: Gbriella Thompson
  • Avram, the Bookseller: David Zimmerman
  • Rifka, his Wife: Anne Lloyd
  • Bella, his daughter: Barbara Lawson
  • Ruchel, the Rabbi’s wife: Jeanette Dosch
  • Marilla, Mordcha’s Wife: Kyra Thompson
  • Yussell, the Hatter, Mordcha;s son: Adam Workman
  • Grandma Tzeitel: Jeanette Dosch
  • Fruma-Sarah, the Butcher’s late wife: Analisa Wall
  • The Fiddler: Stephen Thompson

Production Staff

  • Producer: Rollin E. Wehman
  • Director: Robert Kelly
  • Musical Direction by: Rollin E. Wehman
  • Lighting Design: Phil Carlucci
  • Production Manager: Sharon Gregory
  • Choreography: Dennis J. Clark
  • Costume Design/Coordination: Lilly M. Cleary
  • Wardrobe Supervisor: Gaye Law
  • Set Design: Gregg Hillmar
  • Scenic Artist: Matthew P. Westcott
  • Stage Manager: Ben Fiendt
  • Properties Coordination: Kylie Clark
  • Dance Captain: Kendall Mostafavi
  • Associate Artistic Director for Riverside Center: Patrick A’Hearn

Disclaimer: Riverside Dinner Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

One Response »

  1. I’m a longtime patron of Riverside’s Dinner Theater, and ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ was such a treat to behold. I absolutely loved James Lawson in his previous efforts at Riverside, but this was by far his finest moment. What beautiful realism he gave to the part, in such a realistic setting – kudos to the artistic set design and construction crew.

    My partner and I also loved the new faces to the Riverside (and if they are not new to the theater, please forgive my mistake). The daughter Hodel/Jacqueeline Reynolds was adorable, yet deep in her role. I loved her song. Her suitor Perchick was played excellently as well by the young man playing the part Dylan Rzpecka. We also enjoyed Motel the tailor, as played by Matt Macis. He was equal parts funny (an older woman sitting next to us commented his likeness to younger Jerry Lewis) and poignant in his portrayal of the lovable seam-master. The other daughters were also fantastic in their singing and acting! Bravo to everyone involved! Looking forward to the ‘Cabaret’!