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Fiddler on the Roof

"Tradition is like a fiddler on the roof," says Tevye. Indeed, the precariousness of tradition. from 1905 when the play is set until now, 110 years later, has increased exponentially.

Luckily, the tradition of staging this endearing piece endures, with a sixth Broadway revival due in 2015 and many local productions continuing to grace our stages.

Wayne Kennedy as Tevye
Wayne Kennedy as Tevye
Photo: Glenn Ross Photography
It's no secret why Fiddler on the Roof is so popular—no matter what our ethnic backgrounds, many of our ancestors have a similar story, in the sense of being driven from their homeland by forces out of their control; and we, in turn, remember their trials today, as events continue to play havoc with our traditions.

In this delightful production (on the 50th anniversary of the Broadway premiere) at the BDT Stage (the renamed Boulder's Dinner Theatre), Wayne Kennedy, as Tevye, wins us over right from the start and carries us along through his family's joys and tribulations.

Despite Tevye's volatility and stubborness, Kennedy makes us love him, because he talks to us the same way he talks with G-d, with disarming honesty and a self-depricating sense of humor, always with a twinkle in his eye. His renditions of "If I Were A Rich Man," Tevye's "Monologue" and "Rebuttal," and "Chavaleh" (Little Bird) are captivating and heartfelt.

Wayne Kennedy as Tevye and Shelly Cox-Robie as Golde
Wayne Kennedy as Tevye
and Shelly Cox-Robie as Golde
Photo: Glenn Ross Photography
Kennedy is reunited with one of his long-time stage partners, Shelly Cox-Robie, who returns to BDT Stage after a lengthy sabbatical, in the role of Golde. Forget your preconceptions of the family matriarch. When we finally get to "Do You Love Me?", their duet in Act II, Cox-Robie's Golde reveals an entirely different subtext than what we've come to expect: an aging beauty who dreamed, just like her daughters do, of romance, not an arranged marriage. While her daughters got what they wanted, Golde was not able to buck tradition. Yes, she has developed a love for Tevye, born of mutual struggle and family ties, but there is a wistfulness that remains. Cox-Robie unlocks a problematic role, in which Golde often seems to come off as ungrateful or bitter, and provides us with an original—if subtle—way to understand her daughters' independent behavior. Together, Kennedy and Cox-Robie, and the ensemble, pull our heartstrings without being schmaltzy in "Sunrise, Sunset."

Tevye and Golde's three oldest daughters--Tzeitel (Jessica Hindsley), Hodel (Rebekah Ortiz), and Chava (Sarah Grover)--are a pure delight, fantasizing about and then falling in love for the first time ("Matchmaker, Matchmaker") with the young men—Motel (Brett Ambler), Perchick (Burke Walton), and Fyedka (Matt LaFontaine)—whom they end up marrying. We rejoice with Motel, in Ambler's ecstatic "Miracle of Miracles." Walton and Ortiz make sweet music with "Now I Have Everything." We share Hodel's bittersweet predicament in Ortiz' "Far from the Home I Love."

The ensemble in the Wedding Dance
The ensemble in the Wedding Dance
Photo: Glenn Ross Photography
The funniest and most telling sequence in the musical remains that of the persistent Yente's (Barb Reeve) matchmaking on the feisty Lazar Wolf's (Scott Beyette) behalf, for the hand of Tzeitel, and the sequence of events that follow, including Tevye and Lazar's drinking spree, Tzeitel's resistance, Tevye's self-questioning, his hyperbolic dream (another reference to Chagall and his paintings that inspired the use of the enigmatic Fiddler [Tracy Warren]) as a metaphor, the wedding (nice high-stakes bottle dance choreographed by Alicia Dunfee), and the set-to between Tevye and Lazar.

Neal Dunfee and the house orchestra provide a robust rendition of the beautiful score. Amy Campion's minimalist set draws nicely from Chagall. Linda Morken's costumes ring with authenticity.

BDT Stage's presentation of Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Michael J. Duran, runs through February 28th. For tickets: 303-449-6000 or BDTStage.com.

Bob Bows

 

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