Paramount Theater certainly set the bar high when they called their self-produced Broadway musical series “Better than Broadway.” Though after seeing what they did with Fiddler on the Roof, I am beginning to think that they were being modest. Beginning with the theater itself, an art deco gem from the ‘30s, this production has that certain magical something that makes for a moving theater experience. Set design, authentic feeling costumes, and, most importantly, the cast itself are pulled together marvelously under Director/ Artistic Director Jim Corti.
Set in the turn of the 20th century Russian shtetl of Anatevka, Fiddler on the Roof focuses on the poor (but rich in daughters) milkman Tevye and his struggles with a rapidly changing world. Faced with daughters who want to marry for love and the ever present danger the surrounding gentile community poses, Tevye turns time and time to God for answers. It is in these gentle asides, with Tevye working out exactly how much he can bend without breaking, that we most fully glimpse his gentle and meditative soul.
David Girolmo (filling in for Peter Kevoian) plays Tevye wonderfully. Barrel chested and full of power when need be, Girolmo is also more than capable of catching Tevye’s softer side. Cast as his wife Golde, Iris Lieberman does well as the strong house wife who sometimes lets Tevye believe he is charge of things. Yente (Renee Mathews) provides the necessary laughs and Tevye’s three older daughters are played well by Kelley Abell (Tzeitel), Jazmin Gorsline (Hodel), and Brook Singer (Chava).
What impressed me most about this production were all the little things. Sure, they nailed the big Broadway numbers like Sunrise, Sunset and If I Were A Rich Man. But the play also captures many smaller, more nuanced qualities of life such as the genuine affection felt (but not always shown) between parent and child (as well as husband and wife and between neighbors). I am not sure I would want to live in Anatevka, but it was a pleasure visiting the other day. I also think that if Paramount keeps this up, maybe someday a Broadway musical will sell itself as “Better than Aurora.”
Bottom Line: Fiddler on The Roof is highly recommended. The Paramount Theatre is located at 23 E. Galena in Aurora, Il. From the northwest side of Chicago, it was less than a forty-five minute drive. Tickets range in price from around $35 to $47. Valet parking is available, but we were able to find street parking (and meters only need to be fed on the weekday and before five). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit ParamountAurora.com. For more theater reviews, go to theaterinchicago.com.
Photos by: Liz Lauren