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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fiddler on the Roof at the Auditorium

Posted By on 11.24.11 at 01:07 PM

tevye.jpg

Since it opened last night and only runs through November 27, I'm posting my review of the touring Fiddler currently ensconced at the Auditorium Theatre. For schedule information, see our listing under "Arts & Events."

After nearly five decades of school, camp, and community productions—not to mention four Broadway revivals and who knows how many touring and dinner-theater shows—it’s probably natural to think anybody can strap on a beard and play Tevye, the Ashkenazi milkman who originated in stories by Sholem Aleichem and became the center of a celebrated musical. You wouldn’t even have to learn the songs. I mean, who doesn’t know “Sunrise, Sunset”? No doubt, Osama bin Laden hummed it around the compound in Abbottabad.

But Tevye is far more complex than he looks: generous and conniving, smart and stupid, incisive and blind, brave and squeamish, sweet and deeply pissed off. As a Jew living under the czar, he’s the most oppressed of the oppressed, and we catch him at the moment when his equilibrium is at its shakiest. John Preece turns him into Ralph Kramden. With all the henpecked shtick Preece indulges in, you expect a “to the moon, Golda” out of him at any moment. This isn’t a bad Fiddler overall—the production values are respectable and the younger cast members, in particular, are skilled and fun to watch. But, God, I wish Zero Mostel were still alive.

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