Wednesday October 18th 2017

“Fiddler on the Roof”

fiddler Tradition! That is what “Fiddler on the Roof” is all about! Over the years, many of us have seen production after production- large theaters, small ones, in the round, arena and even on the grass. I myself have had the good fortune of doing the show as actor and director and the privilege of portraying the “everyman” character of Tevye. This being said, no matter how many times we have seen it ( or done it) on the stage, or even the movie version, this is one of the favorites in Musical Theater History. Based on the short stories of  Sholem Aleichem, with a wonderful, warm and heartwarming story by Joseph Stein and music by Jerry Bock with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, “Fiddler” tells us the story of a small community in Tsarist Russia during the early 1900’s. Tevye, the milkman  has many crosses to bear during these hard times- keeping his family together and continuing to maintain all the traditions of his Jewish Heritage; it’s not easy! This role is to be played by Peter Kevoian for the run, but we got a wonderful interpretation of this beloved character by David Girolmo, who is in actuality playing the character of Lazar Wolf, the Butcher, but has been handling this role as the understudy) David’s marvelous portrayal of this beloved milkman proves the point that seeing an understudy perform is not the end of the world. All who witnessed his performance got more than their money’s worth.

Directed by Jim Corti on a masterful set by Kevin Depinet, we see the simplistic lifestyle that these people were living, just eking out a living under the rule of the Tsar, but despite this, the villagers were all attached, by their religion an dof course, their tradition. The “Fiddler”  ( Mark Agnor, who appears to have deep roots in his acting) is of course, a symbol of the shakiness of their lives, but of even greater importance, their “Tradition”.  Corti is famliar with this show and has some slight modifications that have made scene transitions less cumbersome than many productions. Gordon Peirce Schmidt’s choreography, again has some little changes from the original Jerome Robbins production, and to be hones, I was happyy to see the mops missing from “Matchmaker,Matchmaker”. His “Bottle Dance” sequence in the Wedding scene had a newness about it that caused the audience to truly take note and applaud loudly- well done.fiddler-bottle

Speaking of  the audience, The Paramount Theatre , in doing its Broadway Musical series has had amazing results and response. I went to a Wednesday matinee- 1:30 p.m. and found Aurora abuzz with people filling the theater. Yes, there were some school groups, an dyes an assortment of seniors (with canes ,walkers, and even wheel chairs) that filled the theater. I spoke to people around me who came from Elgin, Rockford,Schaumburg and one couple from downtown who said they love coming to Aurora and this theater. Perhaps it is the economy getting better that brings people out, but to be hones, I for one believe it is the quality of theater that The Paramount is bringing to the public and the management team deserves credit for their selection of plays and performers. They have done a great job!

The story is simple. Tevye has five daughters. Tradition dictates that marriages are arranged by the Matchmaker ( Yente,  is played by Chicago favorite Renee Matthews, who despite having played this role many times, continues to keep fresh and energetic, getting every laugh that is written nto the role and a few extras) Tevye’s wife Golde ( another veteran, Iris Lieberman, who has also played this role many times, but she too keeps it fresh and alive with renewed energy). In fact, the energy level of this cast is powerful from start to finish and the voices are amazing. In this story, while a match is arranged for Tevye’s  oldest Tzeitel ( Kelly Abell) with Lazar Wolf, the Butcher (a fine performance by Matt Jones, filling in for Girolmo), she has pledged to marry Motel, the Tailor ( deftly handled by Skylar Adams) , breaking all the traditions that Tevye believes in. The second daughter also finds her own love in a visitor that is teaching her sisters, Perchik ( deftly handled by Jim DeSelm). Hodle ( the delightful Jazmin Gorsline ) also decides to break the traditions, but when the next daughter, Chava (Brook Singer) falls for a Russian Cossack, Fyedka ( Brandon Moorhead), the rope gets to tight around Tevye’s neck. He is about to lose his balance, but here tradition wins out ( as it should).

fiddleryenteMost everyone knows the story, and that the Russians make them leave but despite all the hardship these people have faced and the adjustments they are about to make, they do maintain their balance by keeping their faith and loving one another. No matter how many times you see this show, you cannot help but feel the love of the characters and during certain scenes, shed a tear. In fact, I continue to find myself needing a tissue in three distinct places. Fr a show to be around as long as this one and to still bring that much emotion to an audience is a credit to the show itself, but as they say “It Takes a Village” and this Village of Anatevka does it all.

The musical score ( musical direction by Michael Keefe) includes such classics as  “If I Were A Rich Man”, “Sunrise Sunset”, “Far From The Home I Love”,”Do You Love Me”, “To Life” and some marvelous others- they don’t write them lie this anymore! In most musicals, you may recall two or three melodies ( not even to mention the words), but in “Fiddler”, we recall almost all of the music, including, for some reason the “Dream sequence”(Hannah Corneau is a marvelous Fruma-Sarah)This is a solid production from start to finish and this huge audience was on its feet as soon as Tevye gave the nod to the Fiddler to join his family, thus taking the tradition that they knew and loved with them to their new home.

“Fiddler” will continue at The Paramount Theatre located at 23 East Galena in downtown Aurora through March 24th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.,Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.,Friday at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m.

Tickets range from $34.90 to $46.90 which is a bargain for theater this strong and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 630-896-6666 or online at www.ParamountAurora.com

There is more to the Paramount than the great theater they offer- you can see concerts, so check out the website for some terrific entertainment values.

Valet parking is available as well as public lots. Street parking is metered and be careful to follow signes where the free parking exists- they have some two hour only spots and this show is well over that. In fact, the first act is almost two hours, but it feels MUCH shorter. Time flies when you are ruly having fun!

To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click on “Fiddler”fiddlerpar1

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