After the roaring success of Starlight’s production of Sweeney Todd last year, one would imagine Fiddler on the Roof would do just as well.
Starlight Theatre Co-op
Centre Stage Theatre, Spring Hill
Saturday, 11 March, 2010
After the roaring success of Starlight’s production of Sweeney Todd last year, one would imagine Fiddler on the Roof would do just as well. However, as I sat in the sparsely filled theatre last night it was obvious this musical didn’t quite compare.
The story, set in Russia in 1905, reflects the importance of family, love and tradition – as well as the significance of change and the need to move with the times. In its own right it was an enjoyable portrayal of the classic stage show, but it certainly didn’t contain the same fervour and sharpness as Sweeney Todd, which really set the bench-mark as Starlight’s ability to produce professional-quality musicals. There were some dreary scenes, minor lighting issues and a clash of energy levels among the cast. While the drawbacks weren’t major, they did affect the overall quality and punch.
I must admit that musicals and I struggle to connect, which is probably why I emphasise Sweeney Todd, because it was the first time I really enjoyed a musical. Fiddler on the Roof is more light-hearted than the sinister humour of Todd, which resulted in a less interesting musical experience for me. However, it was really pleasing to see Jack Bradford had elected to use a live band for the show’s music again and microphones to subtly project the cast’s singing voices. The band was high-quality and some of the singing amazingly powerful. Those of Claire Walters as Hodel, and Louise Gavin as Golde, particularly impressed.
With such a sizeable and young cast, Bradford had wisely chosen to alternate some roles between two performers. I felt lucky to have attended a performance that included Katherine Johnson as Tzietel. She was charming and was greatly matched by her forbidden lover Motel, played by Liam O’Byrne.
A beautiful song between Bradford and Gavin titled Do you love me? was touching and witty with responses along the lines of “after washing your clothes for 25 years, what do you think?”. Renditions of the famous Tradition and Matchmaker, Matchmaker were also good.
Stand-out performances were Jack Bradford in the leading role of Tevye, Louise Gavin, Nick Hollamby as the “radical” new-comer Perchik, and Tim Hope-Hodgetts as Lazar Wolf. Hope-Hodgetts and Bradford’s scene as rowdy drunks was hilarious.
Choreographer, George Canham, did a great job creating moves for some difficult scenes with the entire cast dancing on stage.
Set design by Bradford was spacious, but not lacking in features. With a staircase at either end, a second level for the fiddler and a number of entrances, the set was imaginative and scene changes were kept well paced.
The enormous effort and hard work that would have gone into this production showed and resulted in a good performance, but its preceding musical puts it somewhat in the shade.
Bookings: Oztix on 1300762545
Until 27 March 2010