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The Walnut Street Theatre Ends 2010 Season with Fiddler on the Roof

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FiddlerThe Walnut Street Theatre' s Fiddler on the Roof is simply joyous. Wrapped around the customs, no rather the “traditions” of the Jewish community in the Russian village of Anatevka, this impressive production goes beyond local color and lays bare the love of family and the strong discipline it takes to survive in very difficult times. 

Director Bruce Lumpkin has captured every emotion is this hugely popular musical. From the joys of true love to the sorrow of a people forced into exile from the place they call home. 

The focal point and narrator, so to speak, is the philosophizing milkman Tevye played wonderfully by Broadway’s Mark Jacoby who brings a fresh, honesty to the role that engages the audience. While not the traditional portly papa, Jacoby more than makes the role his own in a very natural sure- of- himself manner. 

A man of goodwill, Tevye often pauses to carry on a dialogue with himself, arguing both sides of a case with equal logic. He holds long conversations with God. Although his observations never are disrespectful, they call a spade a spade. "Send us the cure," he warns the Lord, "we got the sickness already." "Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof!" 

FiddlerOne can't help but love the classic Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick score, with such great songs as “Tradition,” "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" and "Sunrise, Sunset," or Joseph Stein's insightful, moving book. 

Philadelphia favorite Mary Martello plays Golde; Tevye’s other half with warmth and passion rather than the nagging weary wife. While Martello keeps the family in their place, she compliments Jacoby nicely especially in the almost beloved “Do You Love Me?” The five daughters are delightful in their respective roles and Denise Whelan’s Yente lovably intrudes into everyone’s private lives finding matches for the single folk regardless of age! 

The young male suitors Nick Dalton (Perchik) and Marcus Stevens (Motel) are both outstanding. Steven’s “Miracle of Miracles” is exuberant. 

Lumpkin’s direction and Jacoby & Martello's acting soar in the Grandma Tzeitel “Dream” Scene with Gianna Yanelli nearly stealing the show. Michele Gaudette’s choreography flows nicely throughout and the male ensemble have little problem with the traditional dancing. 

John Farrell’s sets are simple with floating rooftops and window panes overhead set against a constant horizon that changes from sunrise to sunset from scene to scene. 

Alexander Sovronsky, the ever present fiddler floats overhead on the roof tops and sits quietly in the corners as Tevye’s reminder of the uncertainties of life. Sovronsky passion is heartfelt as he has a real life bond to this story. Many Sovronskys fled Russia for the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Fiddler on the Roof plays at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia through July 18, 2010 For tickets and information call 215.574.3550 or visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org

 

 

Photo 1: Mark Jacoby 

Photo 2: Ensemble from Fiddler on the Roof

 

 

Photo 3: Bill Van Horn (left), Mark Jacoby (right) and Ensemble

Photo 4: Mark Jacoby as Tevye (center) and Ensemble