|The cast of Fiddler. Photo: Joan Marcus|
It Breaks With Tradition, but this Choreography is Worth Watching
By Lauren Yarger
Fiddler on the Roof with music by Jerry Bock with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and a book by Joseph Stein, based on the stories of Sholom Aleicheim, has been a part of theater tradition as long as I can remember.
Ever since Zero Mostel made the part of Tevye the milkman his own (he won the Tony in 1965 and reprised the role in the 1976 revivial) the wonderful songs like, “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Miracle of Miracles,” “To Life,” Do You Love Me” and Matchmaker, Matchmaker” have been part of the American songbook -- and the fact that I could just list all of those without having to consult a program proves it.”
Lets face it every high school has done Fiddler and there have been three previous revivals in 1981, 1990, and as recently as 2004. So why do another revival now. What about this one makes is so special that people should pay $157 a ticket to see it.
The answer is one word: the choreography. Hofesh Shechter is a genius. Somehow he has remained true to the show’s original choreography by Jerome Robbins, but has made it totally fresh and exciting. The dances take on a life of their own and bring
depth and passion to the story.
“Tradition,” arguably one of the best opening numbers for a musical ever, is even more exciting and celebratory. The choreography is worth the price of the ticket. The rest of the production, directed by Bartlett Sher, is not as rewarding. Danny Burstein is a respectable Tevye, though he seems much happier than I expect. Jessica Hecht is more downtrodden and reflects the difficulty of her life.
Others like Samantha Massell Hodel and Alix Korey Yente, whose comic delivery is off, seem miscast. A number of vocals are weak and don’t blend well and some miss cues to begin songs. Music Direction is by Ted Sperling.
Sher has people moving around on stage with no apparent focus, He also has elected to introduce a confusing, modern prologue and epilogue to the story. There also is a floating fiddler. Scenic Designer Michael Yeargan suspends some rooftops too. These elements seem out of place.
It’s always lovely to hear the score. It’s a real treat to watch this choreography. But somehow, I won’t be surprised if I enjoy the next traditional production I see a local high school just a bit more.
Fiddler floats at the Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway, NYC through Sept. 4. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wedesday, Friday, Saturday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $35-$157: 800 432-7250; fiddlermusical.com.
Check out some of the neat choreography here:
Music by Jerry Bock; Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; Book by Joseph Stein, based on the Sholom Aleicheim stories; Direction by Bartlett Sher; Choreography by Hofesh Shechter, Scenic Design by Michael Yeargan, Costume Design by Catherine Zuber, Lighting Design by Donald Holder, Music Direction by Ted Sperling
Jenny Rose Baker….
Julie Benko, Eric Bourne, Stephen Carrasco, Eric Chambliss, Jacob Guzman, Jesse Kovarsky, Reed Luplau, Brandt Martinez, Sarah Parker, Marla Phelan, Tess Primack, Silvia Vrskova, Jonathan Royse Windham…. Villagers
-- no content notes. If you haven't taken your kids to Fiddler yet, do. It's a story of family, faith and tradition.