FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, the Tony Award-winning musical, is currently being presented by Light Opera Works at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston, through August 24, in celebration of its 50th anniversary. This is a production not to be missed. And the run is very short. Leaving the performance I met a friend who said she has seen many productions of “Fiddler” and this was the best one yet. I, too, have seen other productions, which I enjoyed very much, but there was something special about this performance that beats them all.
Opening on September 22, 1964 FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, which is now fifty years old, was looking really good in this production. Based on Sholem Aleicheim’s stories, by special permission of Arnold Perl, the book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and flawlessly directed and choreographed by Rudy Hogenmiller. The iconic “fiddler” is credited to Marc Chagall’s painting.
When it opened in New York, it set records with a total of 3,242 performances, winning nine Tony awards. There were Broadway revivals in 1976, 1981, 1990 and 2004 with another planned for 2015. Light Opera Works also had a previous production in 2003. And, of course there was the film in 1971.
During its fifty-year history, “Fiddler” has been performed and loved throughout the world, becoming the topic of sociological research and many books. The Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof by Alisa Solomon is a story beyond Tevye, the milkman, about the impact of this work.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is set in the Pale of Imperial Russia in 1905, the story is based on Tevye and his Daughters and other tales by Sholem Aleichem. Tevye, a hardworking dairyman, works his way from a secure place fixed in tradition through a world that is ever changing and reflected in the lives of his five daughters and his wife.
I knew all of the songs that included the classic, "If I were a Rich Man," "Tradition," "Sunrise, Sunset" and "To Life." In this production, they were fresh and moving and once again told this familiar story beautifully. The live orchestra that was conducted by music director Roger L. Bingaman enriched the performance.
The stage was wonderful, the sets, lighting, sound, costuming. All of the singing was a delight but for me, the dancing was amazing, as were some of the scenes where there were special effects. The cast includes Alex Honzen (Tevye), Jenny Lamb (Golde), Yael Wartens (Tzeitel), Katelin Spencer (Hodel), Meredith Kochan (Chava) and Neil Stratman (Motel).
The design/production team includes Adam Veness (scenic), Jesus Perez and Jane DeBondt (costume), Sienna Kusek (hair and make-up), Andrew H. Meyers (lighting), Mike Ross (sound), Cassy Schillo (props), Tom Campbell (stage manager) and Katie Beeks (production manager). This is a production that everyone in the audience loved. See it.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is Light Opera Works' second production of 2014. The season will continue with the concert production COLE PORTER'S GREATEST HITS (October 3-12) and THE MERRY WIDOW (December 19-31).
Discounted season ticket packages are still available.
Ticket prices for FIDDLER ON THE ROOF range from $34 to $94. Ages 21 and younger are half price. To order tickets, or for more information, call the Light Opera Works box office at (847) 920-5360 or order 24 hours a day online at LightOperaWorks website
Light Opera Works' mission is to produce musical theater from a variety of world traditions, to engage the community through educational and outreach programs, and to train artists in musical theater.
Photos: Mona Luan