ST ALBANS MUSICAL THEATRE COMPANY Alban Arena, St Albans
“FIDDLER ON THE ROOF” 30th April 2016
Director & Choreographer: Linda Dyne MD: Philip Joslin
This was probably the most energetic production of Fiddler I have seen. From the outset I felt the enthusiasm, it showed in the fiddler (Matthew Joslin) seated on the roof, playing a really tuneful and rich sounding theme, to Tradition, where everyone looked bright, and fully participated in the choreography, I felt the love and empathy from the cast. My notes described the opening as joyous!
The set was standard for the show, but I liked the dimming to working lights without complete blackouts, and the quick scene changes, with the cast moving props etc where relevant, it kept the audience interest and the flow of action. I liked the scene change musical accompaniment too – always a plus for me.
Costumes were very suitable, everyone looked good.
The lighting throughout kept the ambience of the production, with the effects for The Dream being especially good, as was the repeat of Tradition.
Musically I found nothing jarred, the harmonies from the ensemble, and the vocal quality of the principals was mostly spot-on, making the music sound new and exciting. The orchestra accompanied well under Philip Joslin’s direction, bringing the sound up to a full, rich sound where needed.
Sound was excellent.
Linda Dyne showed a fine insight into the ethos of the piece, with good choreography throughout. It also brought home the terror and sadness of people’s lives in that era.
Stephen Wilks showed a fine voice and good understanding of Tevye – probably one of the best I’ve seen, I felt we had a fully rounded character, with a nice twinkle in his eye when speaking to the higher being! I enjoyed his rendition of Rich Man, it was extremely good.
Golde was nicely portrayed by Debby Connor – vocally and expression-wise she maintained the firm but motherly disposition, and there was a good relationship between her and Tevye. I particularly liked Do You Love Me? – it got all the nuances of a long marriage, and managed to be tender as well – a real tearjerker.
The Sabbath Prayer was beautiful – simple and effective, with lovely sounds from the ensemble.
I liked the energy of To Life, and the fact that the Russian soldiers kept a dialogue going between themselves when Tevye, Lazar Wolf and the villagers were singing, and then came into their own when they took up the music – they also achieved a very good dance break – overall an accomplished number.
I enjoyed the interlude with the use of the Fiddler.
Tevye’s monologues with his daughters and their proposed husbands, used very atmospheric lighting, which enhanced the action.
I loved The Dream sequence, this is the first time I have seen Fruma Sarah fly, it certainly made an impact, and changed the dynamic – excellent.
The wedding scene was very well-accomplished, and the Bottle Dance as always was a highlight.
The duets and ensemble numbers were mostly first-rate.
Tevye’s older three daughters, played by Cate Brooks (Tzeitel), Emily Down (Hodel) and Emily Dell (Chava) gave their characters depth and I liked the relationships they built with their respective partners – all very proper as it would have been, but with underlying emotion. Well-sung too.
Lee Harris (Motel), Alex Salter (Perchick) and Zodiac Willoughby-O’Neill (Fyedka) achieved the diversity needed for each of their characters, which suited their respective relationships with the girls. They achieved expressionful songs. Three good pairings.
Ella Maria-Lopez and Amelie Crocker played the younger daughters very well, always looking interested in what was going on around them.
I liked Jane Foufas as Yente – the meddlesome and gossipy matchmaker – a super characterisation.
Clive Webb gave Lazar Wolf a rather softer edge than normal, but that said gave as good as he got in the wedding scene!!
The other smaller principal parts were all very well-portrayed.
The Jewish edge to the principal’s accents were kept well throughout, not too pronounced, but enough to give the right feel, and there were several very poignant moments, that affected the audience as they should.
Overall a remarkable production, I was very impressed, as with the older more traditional musicals it is often difficult to make them feel different and exciting, but I felt this was definitely achieved in this production, so very well done to all involved.
Nova Horley, NODA District 3, April 2016