Review: LOpSoc presents ‘Fiddler on the Roof’

Lively and perfect comedic timing that will evoke a wide range of emotions and clearly shows off the talents of the whole cast.

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The Light Operatic Society’s rendition of this Broadway classic is a joy to watch. The story tells the tale of Tevye, his wife, five daughters, and their lives in Anatevka, Russia. The production depicts outside influences that affect this small, reclusive village in Imperial Russia and follows Tevye, a middle-aged milkman whose values and those of the whole village are based on tradition. We see him deal with personal struggles as his three eldest daughters declare they wish to marry for love and observe the impact this has on his own relationship with his Jewish heritage.

This production was very faithful to the original, including all musical numbers and plot developments clocking in at just under three hours including the fifteen minute interval, and the cast must be praised for keeping energy levels so high for the entirety of the performance.

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Joseph Hand (Tevye) gave a remarkable performance, he was very entertaining and had clearly put a lot of time and effort into developing his character as well as his Russian accent. His anger and frustration at his daughter Chava and his declaration that she was dead to him was a pivotal moment in the production and greatly contrasted with his comic ability in Act I, clearly demonstrating his skills as an actor.

Ellie-Rose Fowler (Golde) must also be praised for her performance as she completely transformed into her character. She had an impressive Russian accent, and her ability as well as Hand’s to sing with these accents show a clear dedication to the role and the production. Ellie-Rose’s vocals were absolutely beautiful, and the scene in which she and Hand sang the ‘Sabbath Prayer’ was very moving.

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The cast itself was large, which in some scenes worked well to create a ‘hustle and bustle’ environment, but in others seemed a little cramped as the performance space in The Annex is rather small. However, choreographically they worked around this and did the best they could with the space they had. I was surprised to read in the program that to be in the chorus for LOpSoc’s shows you don’t need to audition, as the whole cast came across as both good and confident singers.

The scene at the local inn and the song ‘To Life’ performed by Hand (Tevye) and William Hiett (Lazar Wolf) was a personal favourite, and the dance-off between the Jewish locals and Russian youths was really fun to watch. The band, headed by musical director Amy Wardle, were really entertaining. At times it seemed they lacked energy and may have needed a bit more rehearsal time, but overall they performed well.

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It was clear the production team had put in a lot of effort to learn more about Judaism as a whole and had incorporated this into the production which I found very admirable and really completed the setting of the show. The only thing I would criticise is that the production is a little slow to begin with, but soon picks up and becomes very enjoyable to watch.

A few members of the audience were a little confused why some characters had accents and others did not, but I think it was a clever move to have the elders in the village perform with Russian accents, whilst the younger generation did not, as it emphasised the main theme of the show; the breaking up of traditions.

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Overall the performance was great fun, with lots of laughs and energy from the whole cast. Special acclaim goes to Vikie Miller (Hodel) whose voice resonated around the theatre and was a joy to listen to, and Clementine Chirol’s brilliant performance as Grandma Tzeitel, it was both terrifying and hilarious, and completely made Tevye’s dream scene.

The cast themselves seemed to really enjoy putting on this show, and it was a great success for all those involved!

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LOpSoc’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is still showing in The Annex Theatre tonight and tomorrow, and I’d definitely recommend going to watch! You can buy tickets here or alternatively reserve them here.

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