I personally cannot imagine life raising five daughters. My three boys keep me on my toes as it is ~ that’s enough. Add to that, raising five girls in a time when things are beginning to change and traditions are being challenged? Oy vey! I guess the times never really do change! Well, last night, Hubby and I were invited to experience opening night of Fiddler on the Roof over at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Fairwinds Orlando Broadway Series. Right there on that stage in front of us, we watched the story of a Jewish father struggling to maintain a balance between his rooted love for his faith and his enduring love for his growing daughters. It’s a balance so difficult it’s like a fiddler playing his instrument while standing on the top of a roof.
I was invited as media to attend opening night of the noted production. All opinions in this post, however, are 100% mine and mine alone. This post may also contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Fiddler on the Roof at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
As we took our seats and the lights dimmed, we were transported to a small town called Anatevka around the early 1900s. It was a time when Jewish communities lived as peacefully as they could while Russian occupation slowly drove many out of their homes and away from their families. Outside influences were also beginning to impinge upon religious practices and cultural traditions that had been fixtures and staples within the Jewish community for generations.
While the graceful sounds of a dancing fiddler set the tone, we were introduced to a Jewish milkman of humble means by the name of Tevye. Tevye lived in this small community of Anatevka with his wife of 25 years and five daughters. Tevye was a proud man who held onto tradition like it was his right arm and any thought of going against it would be considered blasphemy.
At the same time, he also viewed life through a lens of perpetual hope and with a tremendous sense of humor. He kept himself connected to God, speaking to Him often through animated “conversations” we had the privilege of witnessing being carried out onstage.
However, as much as Tevye loved the traditions his people had kept for centuries, he was living in a time when things were shifting balance and changing dramatically. While he believed in arranged marriages and religious purity, he found himself struggling to stand firm and hold on to what he held so dear for so long.
Three of Tevye’s five daughters had gone against tradition and found love in someone other than the men chosen for them by the village matchmaker (Yente). All Tevye had wanted for his daughters was a better life than the one he could give. However, he wanted that to come about through and according to Jewish tradition.
Instead, Tevye found himself teetering, caught in a battle that had his strong-willed daughters convincing him to open his eyes to see that life was taking them in a different direction.
Tevye was losing his balance.
In time, the stern father regained some sort of stability by conceding to his daughters’ wishes. His only desire was to see them happy above all else.
Yehezkel Lazarov, an Israeli born actor and theater director, commanded the stage during his performance as Tevye. He was both witty and humorous, as well as powerful when his character required him to be. He was the epitome of a devout religious man and loving father, despite being tested and tried like many biblical characters he would quote. Lazarov pulled us successfully into his story and captivated us with his delivery as an endearing father and faithful Jew.
I also appreciated the stellar performances carried out by Jesse Weil (Motel), Ryne Nardecchia (Perchik) and Mel Weyn (Tzeitel). Whether a timid tailor, cocky radical or an independent thinker, these three made their characters believable. They took us along on an adventure as their roles grew into responsible young men and a courageous young woman.
To stay authentic, I did find a few characters to whom I didn’t take as well. They were either a little too abrasive (even for the role they portrayed), underwhelming, overwhelming or simply lacked authenticity in their performance. At times, solos were pitchy or weak. However, those small flaws were honestly truly minuscule. They had absolutely no bearing on the overall fantastic delivery of the story.
The dancing was phenomenal, the music contagious and the emotion felt deeply auditorium-wide. The set design was spectacular, transporting us to places such as a farm house, a tavern, a wedding or the village street. It truly was a gripping production.
As the curtain fell…
In the end, we laughed, we sighed, we danced and we hurt. We even celebrated a Sabbath and a wedding with them. In fact, just as the curtain was getting ready to fall on the production, some of us even felt ready to join the caravan and leave alongside them on their next adventure.
We had just witnessed the story of a man who found balance between his faith and the changing times.
That’s a difficult thing to do.
In fact, as noted earlier, it’s like a fiddler attempting to play his instrument while maintaining his balance on the top of a roof.
Part of the Orlando Broadway Series
The national tour of Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof will be here in Orlando at the Dr. Phillip’s Center for the Performing Arts until March 10th. Tickets can be purchased online anytime or at the Bill & Mary Darden Box Office Monday through Friday between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm and Saturdays 12 PM to 4 PM. The box office is also open two hours before each performance.
In addition, there are Fiddler on the Roof Master Classes being offered for dance, focusing on dance technique in a classic musical theater style. Registration for these can be found on the
website (classes closed).
The remainder of the 2018-2019 season promises more amazing performances with hits such as Dear Evan Hansen, Anastasia and Come Far and Away. Be sure to check out my post highlighting the upcoming 2019-2020 season, which will feature famed titles such as Les Misérables, Aladdin and My Fair Lady.
To learn more about becoming a Dr. Phillips Center Subscriber, click here.
Related: Have you seen Hello Dolly with Betty Buckley? Check out my review!
Our evening at the Dr. Phillips Center watching this love story play out on stage was the best way I could have celebrated my birthday. Oh, did I forget to mention that it was my birthday? Be sure to grab your tickets while the show is in town. If you’re not in Orlando, be sure to check the national tour website. It’s possible the show could be coming to a venue near you!