Tuesday, March 1, 2016

reviews - FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Arizona Broadway Theatre

the cast of ABT's Fiddler on the Roof
photo: MikeBPhoto.net
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through April 3rd.

"...When the full cast circles on stage, their arms in the air, their rich, full-bodied voices bouncing off the house walls, resonating around you, goose-bumps follow, which is exactly the effect the piece demands. And at the center of it all is Tevye (Jason E. Simon) who not only engages the moment he appears but by sheer presence alone takes an immediate command of the stage. It’s as if he’s personally invited us in to his little corner of the world and he has a story he wants to tell....
The strength of ABT’s presentation is undoubtedly those voices. It’s not only the larger, ensemble production numbers ... that fill the theatre, even the lesser known songs...soar with equal strength.  Close your eyes and you can savor the audio with just as much enjoyment.  But open them during Tevye’s Dream; the mixture of sound and staging as the imagined ghost of Fruma-Sarah (Renee Kathleen Koher) returns from the grave surrounded by swirling smoke as she levitates above the cast like a threatening, tuneful banshee is a production highlight. Same with the Bottle Dance during the wedding sequence. They’re both inspiring, musical moments that fully capture the real essence of what Fiddler on the Roof is all about. Kurtis W. Overby’s choreography is full of clever flourishes that add to the overall effect...Johanna Carlisle’s Yente the Matchmaker warms the stage with her character’s humorous, gossipy presence...Fiddler on the Roof is one of the most popular musicals ever.  There’s a good chance that a chunk of the audience may have already seen at least one production since it first appeared on Broadway in 1964...with a production as handsome as this, sung with voices such as these, it’s the newcomer to Fiddler that will receive the most enjoyment.  If you’ve never previously seen Fiddler on the Roof in any shape or form, then this is the one you’ll remember above all others. " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"The classic musical Fiddler on the Roof is currently receiving a splendid production at Arizona Broadway Theatre...well directed with simple yet beautiful creative elements and a superb performance by Jason E. Simon as the beloved milkman Tevye. This is an exceptionally solid production of the popular and timeless musical....Fiddler tells the well-known tale of Tevye, the poor Jewish dairyman, his wife, and five daughters in early 1900s Russia. Set in the changing world that surrounds him, Tevye tries to hold onto his traditions and religious customs even as he deals with anti-Semitism and the Russian expulsion of Jews from their homes in his village of Anatevka....
Director M. Seth Reines sticks close to the blueprint that many directors of this show have used in the past, yet adds several effective original touches to keep the story fresh and vibrant...Jason E. Simon is the best sung Tevye I've ever seen. His rich, deep, beautiful voice achieves warm, stirring notes and his comic timing and personable connection with his fellow cast members form a simply beautiful performance. As Tevye's wife Golde, Kat Bailes is better in the emotional scenes in the second act, while her short, stern and biting comic take on the controlling wife is a little off putting in act one, lacking a sense of warmth to keep it from seeming to be the portrayal of just a constantly complaining woman. The supporting cast achieves beautiful portrayals....Douglas Clarke's set design is warm and creative, using birch trees in his designs, including three proscenium arches with richly detailed borders, which add texture to the Anatevka setting. ...Joshua D. Smith's music direction is stellar, achieving lush tunes from the cast and orchestra including some simply lovely violin solos from Allen Ames. Fiddler on the Roof is a powerful piece of musical theatre with a wonderful score, a strong sense of humor, and realistic drama all effectively combining to tell a tale of a simple man, his family and fellow villagers who are all confronted by some serious issues in a time of change. With a superb turn by Jason E. Simon as Tevye, rich creative elements, and solid direction, ABT's production of this beloved musical is one of their best."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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