by Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom
The Fiddler is back and will be on stage at the Times Union Center until December 13, 2009.
AIM MANAGEMENT (American International Music Management) is a brand new theatre company that is based in Jacksonville. Created by Donald Westwood, Executive Producer, the company wants to provide top notch musical theatre productions throughout the Southeast. Westwood has been involved in over 200 musical productions in every phase from producing, directing, and managing all over the United States.
Since winning nine Tony Awards in 1964, and becoming the first musical to reach 3,000 performances, Fiddler on the Roof, has been a family favorite that is in constant production somewhere in the world.
It is the story of Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman at the turn of the century in a small Russian village and his five dowry-less daughters, his wife, his lame horse, and his relationship with God. Although it deals with the tragedy of the villagers being displaced from their homeland because of religious persecution, it also reflects their resilience and has many touching comic moments which no doubt is the reason for its popularity as a family event.
Well, what you want to know is whether this production is worth seeing and why. Our opinion is a resounding YES!!! And for multiple reasons.
Mr. Westwood and Director and Choreographer Norb Joerder cast the show in New York, and have assembled a very solid cast from top to bottom. Picture perfect looks, excellent voices, and fine performances are evident from the opening to the closing curtain. Bruce Goldman as Tevye repeats the rave review performance he did at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre some years ago. The audience loved him and you will too. There is local talent in the cast with Lillian and Carolyn Dinkins (ages 11 and 9) as the two youngest of Tevye’s five daughters. These Orange Park youngsters performed well and are worth a look for they are certainly future musical theatre stars.
There is a lot of local involvement with this production. Producer Westwood used the talents of Alhambra Scenic Designer David Dionne to create the excellent sets for this village. Scott Ashley, resident designer for Limelight Theatre, did the very effective lighting design. Then there is the marvelously versatile Samuel Clein, who came to Jacksonville three years ago and has made himself very much in demand as musical director, conductor and pianist. Yes, he does all three roles in the production, leading the ten-piece orchestra that played to perfection.
One of the big positives of this particular production is its location; the Terry Theatre (600 seats) at the Times Union Center. You may never have another chance to see such a polished production of “Fiddler” up so close and personal that every gesture, every wink, every smile, every frown is clearly visible. The actors were miked so you can hear all those great songs.
Because of the small stage, the houses and sets were scaled down but this was a plus as well. Still giving us the entire atmosphere, they were swiftly moved (by the actors) so scene changes were quick and the show fast-paced. A show that usually runs three hours timed out at just 2 ½ hours with the intermission.
I usually list many of the actors in a show but, other than the three mentioned, none have performed locally. However, assuming this show is as successful as it deserves to be, this company will be back with more and I am sure you will be seeing many of these talented performers in future productions.
The choreography was excellent, with the famous “bottle dance” appearing to be once again the crowd favorite.
This is a great show to share with children, so don’t miss it. The final performance is Sunday afternoon on December 13. Visit www.FiddlerNow.com for schedule and ticket information (as well as a plot synopsis).
The show moves on to Savannah Dec 15-19 at the Lucas Theatre. Do you have friends or relatives in that city? Then give them a call and tell them about Fiddler on the Roof.
Ever wonder about the title? It apparently comes from an expression that life in those small villages was like being a fiddler on a roof trying to scratch out a simple pleasant tune without breaking his neck.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
by Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom