Opening night for King of Prussia Player’s FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Shannondell Performing Arts Theater found the beautiful and comfortable 500 seat facility about 2/3 filled, and though many waited in lines out in the chilly mid-July drizzle for shuttle buses which kindly brought them to the theater, they were rewarded with a spectacular show. In turn, this mass of audience rewarded the well rehearsed cast, crew and orchestra with a standing ovation!
Set in a small town called Anatevka, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, is a very moving musical play concerning the challenges of change during the pre-revolutionary Russia of the Czars. The story touches upon many timeless truths and topics which indeed exist today; social and economic inequality, religion, family relations and traditions, the prevailing strength of the human spirit in the face of hardship, and also explores love on many levels. Tevye, a struggling Jewish dairyman (charismatically played by Sheldon Bruce Zeff) explains that in Anatevka “…every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck… how do we keep our balance… tradition!”. In defying the traditional matchmaker method of marriage, Tevye’s three oldest daughters issue a ‘high-wire’ test, threatening both their father’s, and the village’s equilibrium.
The opening number was robust, all songs were obviously well rehearsed and performed, and although there were some small technical issues with the sound, the competent cast and ovation-worthy orchestra prevailed. In particular “Sabbath Prayer” was beautifully staged, and “Tevye’s Dream” demonstrated wonderfully innovative creativity. In addition to the strong and talented ensemble, and outstanding portrayal of Tevye by Sheldon Bruce Zeff, the three oldest daughters mentioned Tzeitel (Becca Schiel), Hodel (Julia Kershetsky) and Chava (Jesse O’Brien) shone brightly throughout the show and complemented each other well. Julia’s singing in “Far From the Home I Love” defies dry eyes. Trudy Graboyes rendered mother Golde wryly and well, Amy Karash gave Yente lots of perk and personality, and Suzanne Howarth’s Grandmother Tzeitel was hilarious! Steve Kuerschner, as Lazar Wolf, has great stage presence, and the three suitors/husbands to Tevye’s daughters, Motel (Jon Ashley), Perchik (Thomas Wexler) and Fyedka (Tim April) were good matches after all (well, at least on stage).
Choreographing a cast this large while taking into consideration the various abilities and capabilities of each cast member, is an immense task. Kudos to Lauren McGinnis, Choreographer, Sally Rothschild, Associate Choreographer and Dance Captain Kelly Mallon for their obvious hard work. The bottle dance performed by Nick Eustis, Zach Graboyes, Steve Innis, Phillip Lewis, Damion Williams, and Clark J. Van Hekken was a special treat.
The versatility and authentic feel of the set (Dana McGahey) is impressive, and to top that off is an incredible lighting scheme that was simply symphonic (way to go Christen Mandracchia)! It is a joy to see such technical skills displayed on stage.
If you want a good reason to stand up and applaud, hurry to see:
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
Book by Joseph Stein
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Directed by Deb Schrager
July 20, 21, 26, 27 at 7:30PM
July 22, 28 at 2PM
King of Prussia Players
Shannondell Performing Arts Theater
10000 Shannondell Avenue