Loud, proud and nothing but energetic, the UK tour of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ kicked off on Tuesday 1st at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. It was nothing less than incredible. The story itself is one of love, faith and most importantly family. It focusses on one amiable Jewish man, his uncontrollable and yet hilarious wife along with his five daughters, three of whom are looking for a husband.
Tevye, the head of the household is played by Starsky and Hutch’s Paul Michael Glaser, who brought a poignancy and tenderness to the role, allowing us – the audience – to feel the struggles and strains faced by the family. Although not the most impressive singer, Glaser was the hardest hitting of the cast and during the extended first act (around one hour and forty minutes) he was able to switch between talking to the audience and to the other actors effortlessly, constructing a very genuine family rapport, while inviting the audience into his world. His comical timing was excellent, as was the timing of Jon Trenchard who played Motel, the pauper and eventual husband for Tevye’s eldest daughter Tzeitel. The conversations between the two were charming and captivating, truly demonstrating the personalities of each character and enchanting the audience so that it was easy to relate to both at once.
Renowned for its music, Horwood’s interpretation of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ had each of the actors as both singers and instrumentalists throughout. This incredibly difficult idea was very successful and showed the amazing talent of the cast and the complexity of the directing process. The level of vocal ability was set extremely high from the beginning, only getting better as the play continued, with the instrumental ability consistently flawless – particularly shining through in The Fiddler herself, Jennifer Douglas.
The Fiddler does not have lines, does not interact with many of the characters and does not even have a name, yet Douglas’ graceful movements, effortless playing and sheer elegance makes her the unspoken star of the production. Through all scenes she is a key character, attracting attention and glances thanks to her simply faultless performance.
Of course, a large amount of credit must go to the incredible Craig Revel Horwood, renowned judge on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. As a choreographer, Horwood’s influence gives us a lively and high-spirited production, with many a skilled dancer faultlessly carrying out the traditional Jewish celebrations with vigour and vitality. As a director, each scene has been carefully considered and staged accordingly, creating perfect moments of joy, sadness and celebration which make the musical a triumph from beginning to end.
The last performance of the show as played on Saturday 6th and now the show moves south to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre for 15th – 19th October, before continuing its tour of the UK. If you get the chance to see it do not decline, it is a show I would recommend to everyone.
Image: © Neyteri (48205091@N02, flickr)