Every aspect was flawlessly executed and thoroughly exquisite.
One of St. Louis’ biggest traditions—The Muny—brings a show to the stage that is all about tradition—Fiddler on the Roof. Written by Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick, and Joseph Stein, the show still fires on all cylinders with rich characters, a fabulous score, and a timeless story.
Harnick, the lyricist of the show, recently made a trip to the famed theater to be inducted into The Muny Hall of Fame. To mark the occasion, this production of Fiddler will debut a new song of sorts. The second act features the song, “Any Day Now” which replaces the traditional song, “Now I Have Everything.” The song was written for the 1971 movie and is now—with Harnick’s blessing—making Muny history.
Another tradition The Muny changed was having the orchestra sit on the stage. I have been going to The Muny for years and cannot remember this ever happening before. I like the change. The orchestra is one of the biggest unsung heroes of The Muny, and it was heartwarming to watch them perform.
Aside from those changes, the story remained the same. Tevye (Michael McCormick) is a poor dairyman with a domineering wife, Golde (Anne L. Nathan), and five daughters. He sells his goods in the small town of Anatevka, which is being occupied by Russian observers. The town’s matchmaker, Yente (Nancy Opel), manages to make a match for Tevye’s oldest daughter, Tzeitel (Haley Bond). She had arranged for Tzeitel to marry the town’s butcher, Lazar Wolf (Peter Van Wagner). While Tevye’s generation respects traditions of his faith, the younger generation calls for revolution and finding their own way. Cultures collide and Tevye’s struggles illustrate how precarious their lives are, just like a fiddler on the roof.
Having seen this show several times before, I am always astonished at how well this story holds up. The life lessons are still relevant, and the songs transcend time while coming off fresh and inspiring. This is an ensemble cast and the entire cast is superb. Bravo to the casting director for assembling such a fine troupe of actors to pay homage to this Broadway legend. Congratulations are also in order for scenic designer Robert Mark Morgan for his clever set design which I enjoyed watching unfold throughout the production. In fact, congratulations to all the designers of this production—every aspect was flawlessly executed and thoroughly exquisite.
Although this was an ensemble production, there are a few remarkable performances that need to be, well remarked upon. Bond’s gorgeous vocals served her well as Tzeitel; Opel as Yente was charming and endearing; Marrick Smith, in the role of Perchick, commanded the audience’s attention; and Nathan as Golde was wickedly delicious with her sharp tongue and heartwarming delivery. McCormick, as Tevye, was brilliant. His vocal delivery was magnificent, and his emotional performance was memorable. As I said before, the whole massive cast was enjoyable from the villagers to the main roles. All played their part tremendously.
The score was yet another outstanding aspect. Every performance seemed to have an emotional “weight.” While all the performances were outstanding, some of the songs I couldn’t help but to sing along with included “If I Were A Rich Man,” “To Life, “ and the endearing “Do You Love Me.” Music director Brad Haak did a tremendous job giving these treasured songs a fresh spin.
Fiddler on the Roof continues The Muny’s outstanding 98th season with yet another tremendous production. Be sure to grab up your tickets and make going to The Muny one of your family’s traditions. | Jim Ryan
Fiddler runs at The Muny through August 5. For more information, visit http://muny.org/.