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The Ritz Theatre Company is Keeping Tradition Alive with Fiddler on the Roof

by Alex Davis


The Ritz Theatre Co.’s production of Fiddler on the Roof finds its success in its simplicity. Walking into the auditorium Friday night to be greeted with a mostly bare, dimly lit, simple framework of a set immediately evoked the modest village of Anatevka, and set the stage for what was to come.


Fiddler on the Roof, written by the team of Bock, Harnick, and Stein, has been a moving, well-regarded classic since its debut on Broadway in 1964. 60 years later, it remains as poignant as ever. For those unfamiliar, Fiddler tells the story of Tevye, a poor milkman, who is doing his best to raise 5 daughters with his wife Golde, trying to instill in the girls the importance of their Jewish faith and traditions, while struggling with his three eldest daughters’ desires to modernize and make decisions for themselves (marrying for love). All of this while antisemitic threats from Imperial Russian officers are ever-present. How far can Tevye bend before he breaks?


Doug Suplee gives a charming and understated performance as Tevye. He portrays the character in a much smaller and more grounded way than many audiences may be used to. Marissa Wolf truly shines as Golde, Tevye’s wife. Throughout the show, she is present and active in every moment. You can feel the weight of her entire family resting on her shoulders through her voice and physicality. Sara Viniar turns in a beautiful performance as Tzeitel, the eldest daughter; I love watching an actor actively listen on stage, and Sara does just that. Her moments of fear at the thought of an arranged marriage are heartbreaking, and her moments of joy are truly joyful. She and Zachary Taylor, who plays her romantic opposite, Motel, have wonderful chemistry, and seem to really enjoy each other. Zachary does a tremendous job as Motel - his performance of “Miracle of Miracles” is one of my favorites that I’ve seen; he radiates joy, and turns in a great vocal performance. Both Addison Clark and Amanda Barrish, who play Tevye’s second and third eldest daughters, Hodel and Chava, bring their characters to life. Addison succeeds in bringing forward Hodel’s headstrong attitude and stubbornness, while allowing her softer side to shine through. Both her vocals and physicality during “Far From the Home I Love” tear at your heart. Amanda does a wonderful job of giving a grounded performance as Chava, showing her mild-mannered nature for most of the show, but able to stand her ground when it’s most important. AJ Klein gives an incredibly strong performance as Perchik. His vocals are fantastic; the confidence in his convictions played against his unsure nature when it comes to Hodel is incredibly sweet. He creates a character that feels real and complete. Special nod to Lori Caplan Clark as Yente, the matchmaker, who brings that character fully to life, from the way she speaks, the way she stands, the way she walks - all of it is 100% dialed in. Another special nod to Mark Gollihur as Lazar Wolf, the butcher set to marry Tzeitel - he is able to take a character who can come off as a creep and turn him into a sweet, lonely man who you believe just wants a friend, really. Zachary Moore as Fyedka also does a great job of making an easily unlikable character charming.


Fiddler is only as good as the villagers of Anatevka, and the ensemble really does great work in this show. They do a wonderful job of making you feel that Anatevka could be your small hometown, your aunts and uncles, your neighbors. My only wish, truthfully, is that there had been more folks to round out the group. “To Life”, one of the most memorable songs in the show, feels a bit empty without a larger ensemble. 


The set, designed by director Matt Weil, is just enough. A simple, open frame, dotted with pillar candles and stars of David, gives the audience everything it needs, and allows them to fill in the rest. Anatevka is a simple, poor village; the people and their traditions are what fill it up and make it whole, and this set allows for exactly that. The lighting, designed by Jen Donsky, is incredibly effective. A favorite moment of mine is the lighting throughout the song “Sunrise, Sunset” - the purples and oranges really do evoke a sunrise or sunset. Both the costumes, designed by Megan Iafolla, and the choreography, by Jodi Zeichner, are just what the show calls for - seemingly simple, yet incredibly effective. 


Director Matt Weil lets the script and the music of this show speak for itself, which isn’t always an easy task, but when done correctly, can produce a beautiful and moving production - and that’s what Fiddler on the Roof at the Ritz is giving audiences. The set is not elaborate, the costumes are not ornate, the scene changes are not complicated - its success is in its simplicity. 


The show runs Wednesdays (7:30pm), Fridays (8pm), Saturdays (8pm), and Sundays (2pm), now through March 3rd. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.tix.com/ticket-sales/RitzTheatreCo/6520



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