REVIEW WRITTEN BY CHERYL THORNBURGH
For Digital First Media
With its moving story and memorable music, “Fiddler on the Roof” has been captivating audiences for decades and Steel River Playhouse’s current production continues that tradition.
The cast, with former SRP artistic director Gene Terruso as Tevye, the lead character, deliver dynamic performances from beginning to end.
“Fiddler” tells the story of Tevye, a poor dairyman, and his family and fellow villagers at a time in Tsarist Russia, when Jews were being forced out of their homes and their country. Times are changing politically and socially as evidenced by Tevye’s daughters who one by one break tradition by choosing their own spouses, rather than those selected by the village matchmaker and approved by their parents.
Tevye has a difficult time with those changes and Terruso has the acting and vocal talent to create a well-rounded Tevye. His comedic skills shine in his interactions with his wife Golde, played by Kathryn Tilley, and his conversations with God as he tries to sort out his life. Vocally he is at the forefront of many of the best known numbers like “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” but is especially good in the tender ballad “Do You Love me” with Tilley. She is absolute perfection as Golde, hitting every note precisely with a clear, strong soprano in numerous numbers.
There are other pairs who add the romance to this classic Broadway favorite:
Charly Klinman plays Tzeitel, Tevye’s oldest daughter, who falls in love with her childhood friend, Motel, played by David Schwartz. Schwatrz’ solo “Miracle of Miracles” showcases his voice and Klinman has a comedic flare that shines in a scene when she mimics the village matchmaker Yente, who is played by Wendy Mirto.
Zoe Muller plays Hodel, another of Tevye’s daughters who falls in love with Perchik, a student with revolutionary ideas who has been acting as a tutor for Tevye’s five daughters. Perchik is played by Ryan Simme who gets his chance in the spotlight for “Now I have Everything” in the second act. Muller also delivers a haunting solo in the second act, ”Far From the Home I Love.”
The third daughter of marriageable age, Chava, is played by Emma Muller. Chava, really breaks tradition when she falls for a Russian soldier, played by Stephen Fisher. The two have a believable chemistry and add drama to the plot when their relationship causes a rift in the family when Tevye cannot accept Chava betraying her faith.
Other key characters are Wendy Mirto as Yente, the matchmaker, Bryan Cassidy as Lazar Wolf the butcher who is Tzeitel’s other suitor, Aimee Goldstein as Fruma Sarah, a memorable apparition and Clem Mirto as The Fiddler on the Roof.
The cast is rounded out by Ellie Rice and Christie Lohr, who play Tevye’s two youngest daughters, Charles Delaney, Norm Cohn, Jarad Pinkham, Phil Goldstein, Dan Boyd, Nicolas Herbetko, Pat Rhoads, Denni Herbetko, Jaspar Krikorian, Seanna Krikorian, Macy Cohn, Tommy Moliterno, Carson Palladino, Laura Cohn.
The entire cast casts a spell on the audience as they are forced to leave their home, as they sing the bittersweet “Anatevka.”
The show is directed by Michael Licata with music direction is by Marie Anderson, choreography by Rex Henriques and scenic design by Chris Kleckner.