A show of love and passion
DAVID HENSHALL, East Anglian Daily Times, 29th January, 2009
Fiddler on the Roof,book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick at Colchester Mercury until February 7.
To make this show work you must have a good Tevye. On his sturdy shoulders the whole thing rests and, in John Davies, Colchester Operatic have got a cracker. He not only looks right and holds the audience charismatically, he sings the role as well as any amateur I have heard.
His Tevye is a man of love and passion with wonderfully laid back moments, especially when he indulges in his frequent chiding, one-sided philosophical discussions with God. Can there be a more touching request than asking your Maker for a sewing machine for your poor tailor son-in-law?
Davies has the right sense of command and with a thrust of his arms and the stamp of his foot brings everything beautifully to life because this is no one-man band. Far from it. He is supported by a team of actors, singers and dancers who also light up the stage with their talent and the singing is particularly fine.
This is not an easy musical for an amateur company to get right because the story, although touched with good edges of humour and given small chinks of hope at the end, is basically sad and moving.
It tells of the villagers of Anatevka on the Russian-Polish border who are forced out of their homes as part of the pogroms against the Jews in the late 19th century. But it is a story with a strong heart and Colchester Operatic make it beat extremly well.
They make the most of the big production numbers like Tradition and If I Were A Rich Man and there’s an especially good wedding scene with a delightful choral Sunrise, Sunset and some neat bottle dancing.
Tevye’s loves his five daughters but they bring him one headache after another, breaking away from the custom of arranged marriages and there’s a terrific ‘dream’ scene as he supports one of them and lies to his wife Golda in bed in order to change her mind about a match she is sold on. The singing of Neil Somerville’s ghost is fabulously scary.
Barbara Scully is a strong Golda with Louis Cassidy, Kerry Cullen and Lisa Bibby singing well as the tradition-busting daughters and Phil Young, Sam Pilkington and Nathan Crame equally good as their suitors.
But this is very much a company effort with all the characters well played in a cast of nearly 40 driven along by the excellent orchestra under MD Peter Snell underlining the drama and importance of this fine score.