The original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof opened in 1964, and though nearly five decades have passed since that first bow, the story of Tevye, his family, and the members of his small Russian community remains extraordinarily relevant, even in the technology-crazed twenty-first century.
Fiddler’s current touring company maintains the show’s long legacy with great success. This tour boasts a polished, professional group of actors who breathe new life into the familiar story and songs. They present each and every musical number from “Tradition” to “Anatevka” with unbounded energy and great conviction, and this commitment to the material captivates audience members and invites theatergoers to share in the joys and sorrows of Tevye’s family.
The humble milkman, Tevye, strives to maintain his balance as the coming generation ushers in rapid social transformations; cultures and ethnicities clash, and his family and neighbors gradually move away from long-held traditions to encounter a swiftly-changing world. Jimmy Ferraro first stepped into Anatevka in the 1981 Broadway production of Fiddler. He returned to the show again and again in the years since that debut, and his continued enjoyment of the story and its characters flows readily through his performance.
Ferraro possesses a fine, rich singing voice, and he is an ideal Tevye – charismatic, warm and welcoming – a delight to watch onstage. He works effortlessly with each of his scene partners, from his rapid-fire dialogue with town butcher Lazar Wolf (played by Bob Marcus) to his multiple interactions with Danny Boman as the charming, enigmatic Fiddler.
Ferraro’s scenes with real-life wife, actress Dee Etta Rowe, are especially enjoyable. As Tevye and Golde, their bickering reads as prickly but affectionate, and their second-act song "Do You Love Me?" is both sweet and poignant. Rowe shines as the family matriarch, and her Golde moves easily between the brisk, business-like managing of her home and family and a warm, maternal affection.
Colleen E. Johnson (Tzeitel), Elizabeth McMonagle (Hodel), and Allison Fund (Chava) are well-cast as Tevye’s eldest daughters, and each distinguishes her individual character as new experiences draw the girls in unforeseen directions. Greg Pragel brings both consistency and growth to his portrayal of Motel; though Motel never quite outgrows his retiring nature, Pragel allows the tailor to mature and show elements of confidence and leadership as time passes.
Jerome Robbins’ choreography (reproduced here by Lauren Loercher-Sobon) remains as complex as ever, both sharp and entertaining. The touring cast performs these numbers effortlessly, from the lively abandon of “To Life” to the skilled precision of “The Bottle Dance.” The company also brings great talent and depth of feeling to the production’s famous songs, including a remarkably lovely rendition of the classic “Sunrise, Sunset.”
Performances of Fiddler on the Roof run at the Providence Performing Arts Center through November 25, 2012. Tickets are available online at www.ppacri.org, by phone (401) 421-ARTS (2787), or by visiting the box office at 220 Weybosset Street, Providence, RI. Ticket prices range from $36-63; visit the website or contact the box office for information on discounted rates for groups of 20 or more.
Pictured: Jimmy Ferraro as Tevye and Danny Boman as The Fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof. Photo courtesy Prather Entertainment Group.