The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Fiddler on the Roof
Organization Roseville Theatre Arts Academy
Date(s) of show September 20 - October 12, 2013
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review Having been very impressed with last year’s production of “Into the Woods” by the Roseville Theatre Arts Academy, I was expecting a good show when I attended opening night of “Fiddler on the Roof.” I was prepared for another good show, not a great show – but that’s what I got. It was an eyeful and an earful.  The large cast, of all ages, often spilled over the stage, and the 6-piece pit orchestra sounded like a much larger group, and completely professional. Even the set and props – and especially the costumes – were so well done that it was easy to believe I was peeking in on the real town of Anatevka. And starting the show with a real fiddler on a real roof underlined the attention to detail that characterized this production.

The acting was excellent throughout. There were some excellent characterizations – the pushy, talkative Yente the Matchmaker was one of my many favorites. The dialog of this show, especially, is so clever, and these actors really made it work to great comic effect. But the key to any production of “Fiddler” is the character of Tevye, and Mike Mechanick played it to perfection. He had a bit of an accent and a speaking and singing voice that had great range. He even had dance moves that delighted the audience. But his performance was more than the sum of these elements. He just lived the part. And though I’ve seen Zero Mostel and Topol in this role, from now on when I think of the real Tevye, in my mind I’ll be seeing Mike Mechanick.

I have to mention the sisters (Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava), too. They were simply dazzling in their singing, dancing and acting; just a delight to watch every time they were the focus of the action. And speaking of dancing, the choreography of this show was of prize-worthy calibre. “Fiddler” is full of dancing, but what I saw in scene after scene was movement that was fresh, engaging – and highly entertaining. I had not seen Gino Platina’s work before, but from now on I will certainly be alert to any production he has a hand in.

The show was full of subtle touches – gestures, sotto voce comments, facial expressions – most of them presumably director’s touches, and they made this an inspired production that really communicated. Director Michelle Raskey deserves enormous credit for so many creative staging ideas. In particular, the scene of Tevye’s dream was over-the-top brilliant, with wonderfully chaotic choreography and singing and playing from the orchestra. And what can I say about the appearance of Fruma-Sarah, Lazar Wolf’s deceased wife? It was shocking, stunning – I’m still amazed that they pulled it off so well.

OK, I’m sitting the audience, completely familiar with the show, following the action in the story, and I’m asking myself, What is it that is bringing me to tears? Somehow, I think it was the authenticity of this production of a show that I have loved for many decades. So many parts of it were so perfect – not an imitation, but an inspired, accurate reproduction of what was so great about earlier stagings of this masterpiece of musical theatre. But most of all it was full of heart. I felt that the players loved this show as much as I have and put their love into each aspect of the production. It was more than a night at the theater; it was an experience, and a very satisfying one.

 Reviews Home    Organizations    Shows