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Fiddler on the Roof

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Tevye reacts to his wife’s singing and/or breath.

Fiddler on the Roof

At Spotlighters Theatre through Aug. 4

A young fiddler climbs to a “roof” above the audience as Tevye begins his speech about tradition. This is the opening of the Broadway classic Fiddler on the Roof, as performed by the Spotlighters Theatre.

Anatevka, the village inhabited by our Jewish storyteller, Tevye (Mike Galizia), and his family and friends in pre-revolution Russia is a small, out-of-the-way village which outsiders would say is barely on the map. The town’s community is deeply rooted in tradition, but even such small towns change, whether they want to or not. As Tevye’s three oldest daughters approach marriageable age and the matchmaker, Yente (Suzanne Young), searches for husbands, the girls break tradition and make their own matches. While the town changes from within, Russia changes around the town as the czar begins to evict Jews.

Musicals, especially large-scale musicals like Fiddler on the Roof, should be a balance of singing, acting, and dancing. Unfortunately, the Spotlighters could not find this balance. The realization hit home when Perchik (Lucas Blake) attempted to serenade his love, Hodel (Alexa Canelos). Blake was performing well up to this point, but when he began to sing, you could see it in his eyes: He knew he wasn’t hitting the right notes. Poor Hodel! To be serenaded by a man who needs singing lessons.

The musical trifecta took another hit with the dancing—or lack thereof—in this show. Because the Spotlighters Theatre is in-the-round, it’s always hard to act: People are watching you from all sides and there is no hiding. It also presents the audience member with the problem of where to sit, because no matter where you are, you will miss something. For the Spotlighters, this problem is compounded by four pillars, one at every corner of the stage. After all this—and a cast of 25—there is not much room left for dancing. And when they tried, it seemed like everyone was scared they would crash and careen into one another.

The acting was almost believable, even with a few dropped lines and slightly awkward pauses, but hey, it’s only theater, right?

Ultimately, the pit band was the only part of the production that really worked in the Spotlighters’ space. The five musicians played their instruments with skill and aplomb. And thank goodness for that, because what is Fiddler on the Roof without a decent fiddler?

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