Get in touch ...

Know of something happening in
us on

E-mail your contributions to:

We are on Facebook at

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Operatic Society's Fiddler pulls at the heart strings

* A scene from Fiddler on the Roof now playing at the Town Hall. Picture by Barrie Potter. 
One of the most memorable songs from Fiddler on the Roof is called To Life which raises a hearty toast to the sheer joy of being alive.

And joy is a feeling shared by the audience after watching Llangollen Operatic Society stage the first night of this evergreen musical at the Town Hall yesterday.

The show, with music by Jerry Brock, lyrics by Sheldon Harmick and book by Joseph Stein, is set in Imperial Russia in 1905.

That wasn’t a great place and time to be alive especially if you were part of the Jewish community which was being subjected to all manner of persecution by a brutal tsarist regime, not least of which was a form of ethnic cleansing under the pogroms.

Fiddler is all about how one small part of that community faces up to these challenges at the same time as battling to uphold its ancient traditions and customs.

The story centres on village milkman Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as the dark outside influences encroach upon his family's lives.

He must cope both with the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters, who wish to marry for love – each one's choice of a husband moving further away from the customs of their Jewish faith and heritage – and then with the edict of the Tsar that finally drives the Jews from their village.

Amongst the large and talented cast which jams itself into the confines of the small Town Hall stage are quite a few new faces including a large contingent of the more senior members of the society’s junior section, the Young’Uns.

They’ve just had their own smash-hit production of Grease and here a handful of them swap 1950s jeans and leather jackets for drab skirts and farmers’ smocks, all to great effect.

Taking the lead role of Tevye is society favourite Bill Hughes. Beneath the big beard which he and most of the men are sporting for their roles lurks the kind of talent which has shone through in his earlier key parts such as Alfie Doolittle in the society’s last show, My Fair Lady.

Topol made this role his own in the famous 1971 film of Fiddler but Bill stamps on it his own brand of stylish acting and powerful singing, his singing prowess standing out particularly in the hopeful If I Were A Rich Man.

But there are other great numbers too in which the cast demonstrate their ability such as the lively Matchmaker and very moving Sunrise, Sunset, each presented flawlessly. There’s also some very neat traditional Jewish dancing to add to the atmosphere.

Backing up this faultless Tevye in fine style are Helen Belton as his strong and loving wife Golde, and Louisa Jones, Stephanie Williams and Cleyn Orton-Jones playing respectively their daughters Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava.

Jo Lloyd makes an extremely believable Yente the matchmaker while Ellis Griffith Morey shines out as Motel the tailor who sews up his romance with the eldest daughter with the consummate ease.

Graham Kelly, last seen in the society’s My Fair Lady, returns for a skilful portrayal of Perchik the student from Kiev who wins the heart of another of the daughters.

Chris Phillips extracts every morsel of meat from his interpretation of Lazar Wolf, the rich but lonely village butcher.

Grace Goff and Heather Wolfson might not have the biggest parts but their performances as the two dead relatives who return to advise Tevye and Golde on the marriage of one of their daughters are amongst the most memorable, their ghostly costumes and make-up being spine-chillingly powerful.

As always, the chorus work by both the society’s men and the women is polished to an extremely high degree while settings are simple yet very effective.

Tom Dickinson takes the title role of the mythical Fiddler who appears on the roof and elsewhere to guide Tevye through his tribulations.

The production team of producer Helen Belton, director Alison Ravenscroft, associate director Chrissie Ashworth, choreographer Pamela Williams and musical director Leigh Mason have a major success on their hands which deserves to win large audiences.

The original Broadweay production of the show, which opened in 1964, had the first musical theatre run in history to surpass 3,000 performances. Fiddler held the record for the longest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years until Grease surpassed its run.

This version can only run for the rest of this week until Saturday but every performance is going to be well worth seeing.

* Tickets for Fiddler on the Roof are available at the following Llangollen establishments - Jades, Llangollen Oggie and Fine Foods and Gwyn the Butcher.

No comments:

Post a Comment