'Fiddler On The Roof' Brings 'Tradition' To Dr. Phillips Center

The touring musical continues through Sunday, March 10.

March 5, 2019

(Photo by Joan Marcus)

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One of the all-time classic musicals, Fiddler On The Roof was revived on Broadway in a more minimalist fashion in 2015 and that production is now making its way to Orlando on its current national tour. 

Based on a series of short stories by Sholem Aleichem entitled Tevye And His Daughters, Fiddler tells the tale of dairyman Tevye (Yehezkel Lazarov) in 1905 Russia who is confronted with major changes in his life. Not only do his three daughters want to buck "Tradition" (the title of the show's glorious opening number) and marry for love instead of having a mate selected for them by the town matchmaker, but there are also political rumblings happening as the Tsar will eventually force the Jewish citizens to leave their little village, Anatevka.

The emphasis in this production is not on spectacle, but on the onstage relationships of the characters, particularly those of Tevye and his wife Golde (Maite Uzal) and their three oldest daughters Tzeitel (Mel Weyn), Hodel (Ruthy Froch) and Chava (Natalie Powers). 

Unlike previous portrayals of Tevye as a portly fellow in the vein of the original Broadway Tevye (Zero Mostel), Lazarov's milkman is decidedly younger and definitely more fit. He also posseses the comedy stylings necessary to give Tevye's funny one-liners the oomph that they need, without resorting to schtick. He is the center of the show and he holds things together neatly.

He and Uzal make a wonderful match as the couple who made a pre-arranged marriage work. The chemistry is strong and their second-act duet, "Do You Love Me?," is incredibly moving.

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The three daughters are all well-cast, and their singing voices are glorious, as evidenced on the number "Matchmaker, Matchmaker." As their suitors, Jesse Weil (Motel), Ryne Nardecchia (Perchik) and Joshua Logan Alexander (Fyetka) are memorable, with Nardecchia's young revolutionary Perchik a standout. 

The wonderful score by Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) shows no sign of aging, with the songs as vibrant and meaningful as ever. 

A framing device for the show finding Lazarov wearing a modern parka and apparently arriving via train at what remains of the village of Anatevka (nothing) begins and ends the show. Unfortunately it is a little difficult to decipher. 

But that's only a small flaw in a show that, despite its historical setting, seems to remain timeless.

Fiddler On The Roof plays the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. through Friday, March 8; at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 9; and at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10. Click here to purchase tickets.