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Edison's 'Fiddler on the Roof' Hits the Right Chords

Megan Fraedrich, a student at West Springfield High School, reviews Edison High School's "Fiddler on the Roof."

A man is sitting on your roof, incessantly playing the violin. But when you're a poor Jewish milkman who has to deal with an irritable wife, five rebellious daughters, a radical Bolshevik boarder, a lame horse, a meddling matchmaker and violent pogroms, courtesy of soldiers, a fiddler on the roof is the least of your worries.

"Fiddler on the Roof" opened on Broadway in 1964, with music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick and a book by Joseph Stein. Against expectations, this funny and poignant story about Jewish peasants in Russia shortly before the Russian Revolution became the longest-running show in Broadway history until "Grease" surpassed it. With wit and more than a little kvetching as the world changes around him, long-suffering family man Tevye struggles between clinging to tradition and adapting to the wishes of his loved ones.

The Thomas Edison High School Fine Arts Department brings to life the little village of Anatevka and its colorful inhabitants.

Blair Hicks played the difficult leading role of Tevye with thorough believability and strong charisma. His comedic timing and well-delivered one-liners were notable throughout the performance, and his Tevye was a likable and sympathetic character even when angry and pigheaded. If he had a kopek for every time he made the audience laugh, he would be a rich man.

Isabella and Kim Ness portrayed Tevye's intelligent daughters, Hodel and Chava, with strength and dignity. Isabella Ness's pure voice shone in "Far From the Home I Love," while Kim Ness gave a sensitive performance as the delicate and thoughtful Chava. Hodel and the young revolutionary Perchik (Justin Ahdoot) showed convincing chemistry, and Ahdoot's intensity and confidence were compelling to watch.

One of the most memorable performances was by Kit DiSalvo as Tevye's long-dead grandmother. A hollow-eye corpse in a wedding dress decorated with spiders and worms, DiSalvo was humorous and rich in character in her brief appearance.

The ensemble was strong throughout the night, with elaborate vocal harmonies and complex dance numbers. Some characters lacked expression or energy, and others struggled with the challenging range of the songs, but group numbers were well executed. Although the orchestra and singers were not always in sync, songs went smoothly and without hesitation.

Fiddler's talented stage crew made quick set transitions. The sound by Marisa Seitz was consistent, allowing all the many characters to be heard clearly. Staging was creative and effective, particularly in the eerie dream sequence, and the minimal sets by Charlotte Bates were well utilized.

The hardworking cast created an engaging and entertaining show with visible effort and enthusiasm.

By Washington Post Editors  |  November 18, 2008; 11:55 AM ET
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