Fiddler goes through the Roof!

‘FIDDLER on the Roof’, Banbridge Musical Society’s latest production, directed and choreographed by Leonard Anderson assisted by Denise Bryson completed a very successful run at the Iveagh Theatre last Saturday with a well deserved standing ovation, writes Anne Kerr.

Saturday, 26th May 2012, 9:00 am

This superb piece of musical theatre was wonderfully executed by a very talented and enthusiastic cast, supported by a very professional stage crew led by Anthony Fairley.

The show, tells the story of the people of Anatevka, a small Jewish community in Tzarist Russia whose lives are bound up in traditions and customs dating back many generations. Significant amongst these are marrying within the faith, where marriages are arranged by the matchmaker. But, for the villagers, times are changing. Teyve and his wife Golde, the main characters in the story, have five daughters and each wants to decide for herself who to marry. Over the course of the show, the parents are forced to accept that love must transcend ‘tradition’.

Tevye was excellently played by Jim McGuigan, who not only looked the part but lived and breathed it. With a perfectly pitched tone of voice and accent, he was able to switch from sarcastic humour in ‘The Dream’ scene to heart-wrenching sadness when one of his younger daughters chooses to marry outside of the faith.

Rosemary Kelly played the role of Golde with equal aplomb. She conveyed the marital relationship between herself and Teyve perfectly, being quite prepared to let Teyve think he ran the home in true ’tradition’ when clearly she was the ‘boss’.

The orchestra, under the masterful baton of Colin Loughead, played beautifully. For me the music climaxed with an appropriately gutsy rendition of ‘If I were a Rich Man’ by Teyve, the beautifully solemn singing of the ‘Sabbath Prayer’ and ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ by the chorus, and was finished off by a wonderfully romantic interpretation of ‘Do you Love me’ by Golde and Teyve.

Solo performances of particular note were given by, Linda McWilliams (Yente), Emma Woods who played Hodel Lorraine Jackson Brown (Tzeitel), Claire Costello (Chava), Emma Kelly (Sphrintze), Anthony Fitzpatrick (Motel), Ryan McCart (Perchik), Ian Davidson (Lazar Wolf), Lee Cairns (Fyedka), Kate Adams(Grandma Tzeitel), Nicola Johnson(Fruma-Sarah), and John McCourt(Constable). A special mention must go to Mallory Lutton (Bielke), for one so young,she made the part her own.

The choreography was equally impressive throughout. Of particular note was ‘Tradition’, a scene which emphasises family hierarchy and community norms, but the highlight for me was the ‘To Life’ number. This show-piece dance routine from the male chorus was full of energy, with great singing and music, it conveyed in abundance the various emotions and rivalries underpinning the show. But it was obvious from the start that the whole chorus was well drilled and a very valued part of the show.

The script mixes powerful emotion and humour in equal measure. There was some wonderful comedy when the Rabbi, played brilliantly by Eddie Orr ably assisted by Mendel (David McClelland) was called upon to issue a decree or give a blessing or when the excitable villagers such as Avram (Paul Brown) and the Innkeeper (Gerard Kerr) got together.

I enjoyed the show so much so that I found it hard to pick out any one performance over any other, although Teyve and Golde were immense. I left the Iveagh feeling that musical theatre is very much alive and kicking in Banbridge. This show accentuated all the positives of amateur dramatics in Northern Ireland today and Banbridge is indeed lucky to have such a fine Musical Society. I very much look forward to their Pantomime in November.