Friday, January 13, 2017

reviews - FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - Arizona Theatre Company

the cast
photo by Tim Fuller
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 January 29th.

"...Arizona Theatre Company has begun 2017 by bringing its new production of Fiddler on the Roof to Phoenix ...and it’s an undeniably thrilling theatrical experience. Based on the tales of Sholom Aleichem, ...Fiddler on the Roof is about the breakdown of traditional values and the elimination of a village community by aggressive, bullying forces, told through the voice of Tevye, the hardworking village milkman as he relates life with his wife, Golde, his five daughters, and the people of his fictional village, Anatevka....Eric Polani Jensen makes for one outstanding Tevye...his singing voice is loud and robust, his physical presence, burly and strong, and more importantly, within moments of appearing, he creates an immediate rapport with the audience. ...there are moments when it feels as though he might be talking to each of us, individually. Jensen’s delivery of lines...are here delivered with new pauses, hesitations and the raising and lowering of sounds that come across as though they’re being spoken for the first time....It’s clear that director David Ira Goldstein has a passion for Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s musical. He honors Joseph Stein’s original book and the ‘64 production by making no attempts to re-invent or re-imagine the work, yet skillfully guides the production through its steps, complete with a revolving stage that effectively advances both the show’s humor and its pathos...during the sorrowful conclusion as Tevye wearily pulls his horseless cart carrying everything he owns as he leaves behind everything and everyone he has ever known, the revolving stage adds to the illusion of Tevye’s weary, back breaking movement as the wheels on his cart circle round and round. You’ll feel emotionally drained." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"...Fiddler on the Roof...is a perfect musical with a beautifully written book and a score full of classic tunes.....it's also a show that seems to be continually produced on a nonstop basis. For their 50th anniversary season, Arizona Theatre Company presents a production of this show, which also recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary, that is as perfect as the show itself. If you've seen this musical before and planned to skip this latest offering, I urge you to reconsider, as ATC's production has both a perfect cast and superb direction that makes the show seem as fresh and emotionally relevant as ever. Set in 1900s Russia, Fiddler on the Roof focuses on the poor Jewish dairyman Tevye, his wife Golde, their five daughters, and the large group of townspeople who inhabit their village of Anatevka. They attempt to hold onto their religious customs and traditions against changing times as they face anti-Semitism and the potential expulsion from their homes by the Russians. ...David Ira Goldstein's direction is spotless and his talented cast achieve rich portrayals with every line of dialogue and lyric well thought out, realistic, and effectively delivered. Eric Polani Jensen and Anne Allgood are simply exceptional as Tevye and his wife Golde....I've seen over a dozen productions of this show and Jensen is on par with Topol, Harvey Fierstein and Alfred Molina, all of whom I saw either on the road or on Broadway......Fiddler on the Roof is an exceptionally powerful piece of musical theatre with a superb book and score that portray the story of a simple group of people who face a changing world. With an exceptional cast and solid direction, Arizona Theatre Company's production breaths a huge amount of heart and life into this fifty-year-old classic and makes it seem as fresh and powerful as ever." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

".As the curtain rises on Arizona Theatre Company’s superb “Fiddler on the Roof,”...continues to sparkle today over 50 years later, because it speaks a universal message that is relevant today for people living in a fractured world facing new and unexpected challenges. Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s rich score contains such well known tunes as “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” and “Miracles of Miracles“ ...touching story about Tevye, the town’s milkperson, commentator, and guide, as he grapples with abundant changes. ...ATC’s artistic director David Ira Goldstein’s artful production....finds every touching moment in the story, enjoys every comedy bit, and relishes every joke, while boasting a top notch cast, an exquisite set, and historical costumes that display the people’s poverty while a jubilant cast proclaims every residents hopeful joy. ...blessed with Eric Polani Jensen’s stirring and emotionally moving Tevye.  ...ATC exquisite “Fiddler on the Roof” is perfect to every minute detail.  If you’ve never seen “Fiddler” don’t miss this flawless production but even if you’ve seen a myriad of “Fiddler’s,” this one allows you to experience every nuance of this magnificent show.  I." --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"“...Arizona Theatre Company’s new production isn’t quite perfect, but it does boast a perfect Tevye in Eric Polani Jensen, who stars as the kvetching patriarch of a humble Jewish family in Russia more than a century ago....ATC’s production, helmed by artistic director David Ira Goldstein...is animated by passion for the material. The big moments really soar...But just as important are the smaller moments, the intimate interchanges that highlight the humanism of the family drama, especially the tense affection between Tevye and his brusque wife, Golde ...Scenic designer William Forrester’s minimalist structures are framed with drops done up as Marc Chagall-esque paintings, a choice that is certainly apropos but also tends to undermine the quotidian charms of the setting. Also undercutting the realism of “Fiddler” are the actors’ accents, which are quite literally all over the map. ...Such off notes are occasional distractions, but this otherwise excellent production still delivers a full emotional punch as it transitions from a story about a father and daughters negotiating a changing world to one about a community and a way of life under threat from persecution...." Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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