Reviewed by Emilie Carmona
The Rockdale Musical Society production of Fiddler on the Roof will blow your expectations out of the water. I had no prior knowledge of the musical or its storyline but was incredibly impressed by the talent of the actors young and old, the phenomenal orchestra, and joyous musical numbers.
The Fiddler on the Roof is one of Broadways’ record breakers – running for 10 years consecutively, it was beaten out only by Grease. Set in rural Russia, it follows the story of a humble Jewish family – Tevye, Golde, and their five daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel, Chava, Bielke, and Shprintze. Their village is home to both Jews and Russians, whose conflict slowly builds throughout.
This musical is a classic for a reason. Its themes tackle every corner of human interest – history, culture, religion, love, and family. But mostly, the conflict stems from changes to century old traditions becoming more present in the village amongst its youth, as newcomers bring new ideas from the outside world. This causes conflict in the family, whose parents are stuck with their ingrained traditions.
Rockdale Musical Society did a stellar job with its casting, particularly with the hilarious, talented Adam Scicluna as Tevye, who has played plenty of lead roles in his time. He perfectly captured a man fighting between his faith and his heart, pulling him in different directions. His continuous monologues, in prayer to his God, are humorous and filled with emotion. The production really reinforced this, with a spotlight on Tevye, and the rest of the scene paused in motion. Other stand outs included Hodel and her communist lover, Perchik, played by Emilie Davila and Tim Wotherspoon respectively.
This performance was truly delightful and heartbreaking at once. Each character has to make difficult decisions with a number of pressures upon them – of the expectations of others, of their religion, and the restraints of religious persecution. It often leading to hilarious and sometimes tragic results. The women in the storyline broke free from their traditional housewife roles and the horror of loveless arranged marriages. It dealt with these issues in a perfect balance of timeless humor and scenes showing the consequences of their old age beliefs. However, it was also balanced with joyous scenes of first loves, the community bond, and traditional celebration.
One small criticism I would give would be that the volume of the microphones of those in speaking roles was sometimes slightly too low, mixed with small diction issues, left the dialogue difficult to understand at times. However, I truly admire the actors’ performance, as portraying an accurate, clearly spoken Russian accent is an enormous feat. However, sitting towards the middle back of the theatre, sometimes entire sentences or speeches were often lost in the process.
Overall, this was a must see for anyone with a love for musical theatre. The performance was spectacular, emotional, and fantastically produced. What’s On Sydney sends congratulations to the cast and team for a fantastic show.
Fiddler on the Roof is showing at Rockdale Town Hall from the 2-11 March, Thursday - Saturday 8PM, plus matinees on Sunday, 2PM.
Photos by Rod Herbert