'Fiddler on the Roof' enchants Chesapeake Music Hall production of show to run on weekends

September 18, 1997|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"Fiddler on the Roof," which made its debut on Broadway in 1964, opened last Saturday at Chesapeake Music Hall. Even after 33 years, the musical tale of a humble dairyman's plight as he watches his daughters violate his cherished traditions enchants.

Based on Sholom Aleichem's stories, the book is by Joseph Stein, the music by Jerry Bock, the lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and the original choreography by Jerome Robbins. "Fiddler" is set in czarist Russia, but it could be anywhere where old ways yield to new and humor sustains neighbors through trouble.

In Chesapeake Music Hall's production, Doug Yetter is both director and musical director, with Christy Stouffer the assistant director.

Choreographer and costumer Sherry Kay does her usual excellent job with original dream sequence choreography and an exuberant "To Life." She also appears on stage as Mirila.

Strong performances are given by Illias Marketis as Perchik, Jerry Vess as Motel and Bob Rude as Lazar Wolf.

When John Andrew Rose as Fyedka bursts on the scene, he owns the stage with his singing, dancing and acting.

Sue Bell is fine as matchmaker Yente, strong in her scenes with Golde. But she needs to work on her accent, which is overdone.

Bob Buccano seems miscast as the rabbi. On opening night, his timing was off, and he needed to enhance his overall stage presence.

David Reynolds is brilliant as Tevye. His pleasant baritone and vocal technique make for prayerful wailing. When he dances in "To Life," he brims over with the joy of living. His comic timing is on the mark, and his talks with God are inspired. Like Topol, who played Tevye in the movie at age 36, his youth does not keep him from convincing. We forget that this man is too young to have been married 25 years.

Carol Cohen, who plays his wife, Golde, is well paired with Reynolds. They have chemistry, evident in the song "Do You Love Me?" Her accent is subtle and correct. Her vocal shortcomings work for her, making her more believable. Cohen conveys more emotion with her expressive hands than some manage with dialogue.

Katy McAllister has a warm commanding stage presence and good rapport with Motel the tailor, played by Jerry Vess. Mary Armour-Kaiser as Chava gives a touching solo dance.

As middle daughter Hodel, Ronni Mosco makes an impressive debut. Blessed with a lovely voice, Mosco is also a skilled actress and dancer. Playing opposite her is her real-life love, Illias Marketis, as the student Perchik. Marketis has a Broadway voice, not overshadowed in duet with Mosco.

As Tevye's two youngest daughters, seventh-grader Laura Martin plays Bielke, and fifth-grader Nicole Yetter plays Shprintze. Both girls hold their own in a strong cast, so disciplined that they become statue-still, whenever Tevye goes into a monologue.

For at least two Saturdays, "Fiddler" is followed by a cabaret performance with Doug Yetter at the piano, showcasing local singers. Playgoers are invited to remain, and those who do will be rewarded with a great show. Last Saturday, we witnessed a phenomenal performance of "Gethsemane" by John Andrew Rose.

"Fiddler" continues on weekends at Chesapeake Music Hall through Nov. 23.

Reservations: 410-626-7515.

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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