by SARAH PETREA SCHULTZ
I have seen Fiddler on the on the Roof countless times. I know each song and each scene. Still, opening night at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis still brought me to tears.
The show opened with Yehezkel Lazarov in an orange jacket reading a book on a bare stage. Within his first few lines, he set down his book, removed his jacket, and donned Tevye’s hat just in time for the opening notes of “Tradition.” At the end of the show, Lazarov traded the hat back in for book and jacket before following his cast mates offstage. This direction by Bartlett Sher framed the story as a legend or parable, accessible and valuable for every generation.
Hofesh Shechter’s original choreography recreated by Christopher Evans beautifully established tone and character. The citizens of Anatevka moved together with the fluidity of seaweed undulating in the current. Within this stylistic realm, the Papas, Mamas, Daughters, and Sons each had their own distinctive feel. The Papas’ movements were heavy, solid, and measured. The Mamas brought a grand yet gritty air to their verse. The Daughters dipped their hips with spirited sass. The Sons colored furthest outside the lines; stomping, shimmying, and jumping while they sang their self-describing bars. The boys’ boisterous movements conveyed the limitless energy and optimism of young adults throughout time- like an early 1900s version of “flossing.”
The much anticipated “Teyve’s Dream” scene lived up to expectations with brilliant costume design by Catherine Zuber.The ancestors wore dark-hued, dusty looking ensembles evoking previous eras. A number of these costumes were draped expertly over stilts, bringing about half of the ancestors up to looming heights. The most fantastically eerie details were the ghosts’ hands. Not obvious at first, all of the ancestors’ sleeves were draped over bony, gruesomely elongated hands. The choreography utilized these puppet-like extensions expertly, creating a charmingly spooky effect.
Brilliant acting (namely, Maite Uzal as Golde and Yehezkel Lazarov as Tevye), choreography, costuming, and technical design (Michael Yeargan– set, Donald Holder– lighting) bolstered Joseph Stein‘s enduring book. Fiddler on the Roof at the Orpheum Theatre delivered a time-honored tale scattered with fresh innovations. Act quicky to see it by closing night, August 4th. Visit HennepinTheatreTrust.org or call 800.982.2787 for tickets.