Review: Fiddler On The Roof, Grand Opera House Stage Experience, Grand Opera House, York (From York Press)
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Review: Fiddler On The Roof, Grand Opera House Stage Experience, Grand Opera House, York
NO doubt Louise Denison would prefer to deflect attention to the 58 performers under her charge in this summer’s Stage Experience at the Grand Opera House.
Nevertheless, the West Yorkshire director and choreographer is little short of a miracle worker, as once again she raises the bar with her fifth summer school at the York theatre.
You could call it a theatre boot camp, but that would be too draconian, because fun goes hand in hand with discipline in the fortnight’s work that climaxes with four performances. Hence the bright orange T-shirts emblazoned with Fiddler On The Roof that the company of ten to 21 year olds wore in rehearsals.
Louise reckons Jerry Bock’s Broadway musical was the most difficult challenge of the quintet she has now directed for the Opera House, primarily because the cast must master Russian Jewish accents.
From James Potter’s dairyman Tevye downwards, the company has passed that test with flying colours to add authenticity to the story of the Jewish community of Anatevka that faces displacement from their impoverished village under the trampling boot of the Tsarist Russia’s pogram programme in 1905.
Louise calls Fiddler a “classic classic”, better in her view – and she’s right! – than Les Miserables, and that enthusiasm for a musical she has directed more than once or twice is borne out in the fantastic individual performances and well drilled ensemble work she elicits from her cast.
James Potter, 20, from Thirsk, has high hopes of securing a place at drama school for September next year, and his Tevye makes a compelling case. A couple of times he overdoes the expressively exaggerated arm movements, but he embodies the spirit of Bock’s heartfelt, socially aware musical, which is wounded yet resilient, poignant but entertaining too with combative humour and lots of Jewish wise-old wit.
Potter sings and moves well, and he is better still in Tevye’s conversations with his God and with his hard-toiling, waspish-witted wife, Golde (the equally impressive Camille Hainsworth-Staples), as the father of five faces up to his mutinous eldest three daughters, each with marriage and a break from tradition on her mind.
Grace Holroyd’s Tzeitel, Robyn McIntyre’s Hodel and in particular Rosalind Tait’s Chava all give moving performances, while Dominic Harrison as the outwardly diffident yet determined Motel and Scott Gonvalves’s assured, fearless tutor Perchik shine too.
Your reviewer has sung the praises of Robyn Grant on myriad occasions and she marks her 18th birthday by playing someone closer to 81, the old matchmaker Yente, with bags of humour rooted in the physicality of her portrayal. Lukas Jones is similarly engaging as the jilted Lazar Wolf.
The ensemble choreography for Tevye’s bedroom dream, with Madison Clarke’s Fruma Sarah looking down from towering stilts in a never-ending nightdress, is the visual highpoint in more ways than one, and the contributions of musical director Adam Laird and his 13-piece orchestra are vital to the success of a show that will reward anyone seeking an alternative to Olympic fever.
- Fiddler On The Roof, Grand Opera House Stage Experience, Grand Opera House, York, tonight at 7.30pm; tomorrow, 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or atg.tickets.com/york
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