Reagle’s ‘Fiddler’ perched solidly on his roof
WALTHAM — From those first iconic notes played by that fiddler on the roof, to those same notes played by him almost three hours later, “Fiddler on the Roof ” is an almost perfect musical.
That it’s a show the entire family can enjoy — a show about community and family, and the traditions and values that bind us together — is almost after the fact.
The Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston has put together a strong production of “Fiddler,” with some fine performances and the wonderful choreography of Jerome Robbins lovingly and skillfully replicated by Susan Chebookjian.
The lead role of Tevye, a poor milkman in an equally poor Eastern European village under the thumb of the Russian Czar, is one of the great roles in the musical theater canon. Former TV broadcaster Scott Wahle is a talented actor and singer, and he sings with aplomb, but as Tevye I’d like to see him become older sooner. By that, I mean show more strongly the world-weariness of a beaten-down husband and father struggling to support a wife and five daughters while coping with a lame horse and pulling his own milk wagon.
He’s entirely too vital early on. I’d also like to see more world-wearniess conveyed in his off-hand conversations with God, and a higher level of disgust at both the Russians — and his God — after the pogrom at the end of Act I.
That’s not to say he doesn’t have some fine moments, especially in the second act as he fondly recalls the daughter Chava who would eventually break his heart in “Little Bird.”
Donna Sorbello’s Golde is fine as a partner in life and a devoted mother, world-weary herself but devoted to finding the right husbands for her daughters.
As Tevye’s daughters, Nora Fox as Tzeitel, Gillian Mariner Gordon as Hodel and Alexa Lebersfeld as Chava all give sparking, vibrant, heartfelt performances. When Gordon sings “Far From the Home I Love” in the second act, a chill should run down your spine.
Peter Mill as Motel, the poor tailor who becomes “his own matchmaker“ to land Tzeitel, gives his second fine performance of the summer — he was an excellent Mary Sunshine in “Chicago” –showing fine comic timing and a strong, pure singing voice.
Daniel Forest Sullivan is right behind him as the rebellious, somewhat arrogant Perchik, who wins Hodel’s heart, and Matt Phillips is a charming Fyedka.
Rishi Basu is an earnest Lazar Wolf, the wronged butcher, Jack F. Agnew has a nice comic turn as the Rabbi, and R. Glen Michell is fine as the imperious Russian Constable,
Allison Russell and Shonna Cirone help make “The Dream” the funny, rousing production number it is with their portrayals of Grandma Tzeitel and Fruma-Sarah, respectively.
I’d like to see Beth Martin Pierce be a bit more ethnic in her role as Yente the matchmaker. You don’t have to be Molly Picon, but to get the comic flavor of the role , you do have to have a certain ethnic flavor. Right? Of course, right.
At this point in his career, Reagle’s producing artistic dirtector Robert Eagle is not is not about to start cheating the audience of the effects of a fully-realized production number. There’s 45 company members in “Fiddler,” and the production numbers can be done on a scale that would be impractical for a full Equity production.
Director Kirby Ward has done a fine job making sure the energy and enthusiasm level of all the performers is high across the board, coordinating and blocking the huge production numbers, and in general putting a thoroughly professional sheen on the production, just as you’d expect.
This “Fiddler” boasts strong production values, is highly entertaining, well-sung, and is in no danger of falling off that roof.
The Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Book by Joseph Stein, Music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Directed by Kirby Ward. Choreography replicated by Susan Cherbookjian, based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins. At the Robinson Theatre through July 22. http://www.reaglemusictheatre.org