Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School Fiddler on the RoofBy Cappies • May 13th, 2014 • Category: Cappies
The eternal struggle between change and tradition plays out on multiple battlefields. Whether it be the upcoming tumult of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution or the siren’s call of puberty, the status quo is perpetually under attack. So how do these forces balance? Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School’s Fiddler on the Roof superbly answers this perpetual dilemma with that one miracle of miracles: love.
Fiddler‘s tale begins with Sholem Aleichem. Aleichem published several short stories in 1894 including one entitled “Tevye and his Daughters.” This story inspired Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick to inevitably create the 3,242-performance-running, nine-time-Tony-winning, and Zero Mostel-starring musical in 1964. The musical proceeds to follow the life of Tevye as he endeavors between his ideals of Jewish tradition and the ever-changing nature of Mother Russia.
To kick off the stellar performance, Pope John Paul the Great bought out an amazing cast. Jimmy Mullen’s portrayal of Tevye contained a phenomenal amount of comic timing and pacing with an admirable approach to the complex songs. Meanwhile, Tevye’s beautiful chemistry with his wife, Golde (performed with the consistency and lovely vocals of Sabrina Morales), in “Do You Love Me?” paid exquisite tribute to their twenty-five year marriage. To complement her mother and father, Hodel’s (Felicity Morgan) equally outstanding voice wonderfully matched with revolutionist Perchik (Andrew Lane) in “Now I Have Everything.” Then, with the fabulous dancing of Motel (Michael Manley) and Chava (Megan Krakie), Pope John Paul the Great set itself far and beyond most other high schools.
Not to easily be forgotten is the energetic ensemble. Despite some overacting, by playing to their strengths, the stupendous harmonies and in-character styles (especially in the chaotic sequence of “The Dream”) of the ensemble helped stand them apart as well as stand together in the grand scheme of the musical. The spectacular stage presence of Denise Gallant’s fiddling assisted the illustration of survival through a particularly distraught era of Russian history. Meanwhile, Yente, astonishingly executed by Abigail Williams, held onto her old lady physicality with impressive comedic timing. Furthermore, the Constable’s (Ben Nash) torturous expressions between his desires to stay true to the government or care for the poor villagers painted how far deep the injustices of Tsarist Russia had gone.
The acting was only further complemented by the marvelous tech! While the orchestra was overpowering at time, this likely came from a lack of time practicing with the cast. On the other hand, the astounding attention to detail paid by the costumes shined through the black wedding dress of Golde and the magnificent beards of the Village Elders. Even more remarkable was the fantastic choreography of Christine Connor, especially noticeable in the bottle dancing at the wedding celebration. The splendid sledwork in the house set as well as the gorgeous sunsets from the lighting crew rounded out the technical aspects of the show to provide a solid foundation for the background of the story.
As traditions fade, the future supersedes the past albeit with challenges abounding. As turmoil strikes Tsarist Russia, Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School’s fantastic Fiddler on the Roof proves, through one melodious instrument, that hope thrives in this dreary, impetuous world through change, balance, and tradition.
by Stuart Pratuch of West Springfield HS
Photos by Jen Cole
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