By Christine Reid
Patrick Henry College
Andrew Lonon and Hannah Zarr in Fiddler; photo credit to Michelle Stevens.
If it weren’t for tradition, says Tevye early in Eden Troupe’s latest production, “life would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof!”
Life may be shaky, but the cast and crew of Fiddler on the Roof were anything but Wednesday through Saturday evening’s performance of Fiddler on the Roof.
Eden Troupe wove together impressive singing, complexly coordinated dancing, and timely comedy in a traditional rendition of Fiddler on the Roof’s not-so-traditional tale.
Eden Troupe took the audience to Anatevka, Russia and poignantly portrayed its family- and religion-centered community of Russian Jews.
Twenty-nine cast members, not including musicians and crew, collaborated to achieve what was considered to be an extremely demanding production for the small size of PHC.
Andrew Lonon and Charlotte Blacklock co-directed and starred in the play. Lonon focused on directing music, Blacklock on acting.
Blue paisley, green striped, red floral pattern, black, and orange headscarves worn by a mostly freshman cast danced about the raised stage. To the step of a Jewish line dance, heavy boots tapped out a hypnotic rhythm as the cast trod on the hollow, black wooden stage.
Voices ranged from the deep bravado of Perchik (Ben Davis), to the haunting voice of Fruma-Sarah (Sara Foss). Throughout, the cast did justice to the music and the story about holding on to tradition. “Times are changing, Tevye,” said Motel (Andrew Lonon).
The story tracks dramatic changes in Jewish tradition in Tsarist Russia 1905, by telling the love stories of Tevye’s three oldest daughters. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. He must cope both with the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters—each one's choice of husband moves further away from the customs of his faith—and with the edict of the Tsar that evicts the Jews from their village.
Though rife with comic lines about marriage, matchmaking, and slovenly husbands, one thing that Holt finds refreshing about the play is how it, “ends on a sad note.”
“I think we are offering more than people expect,” Blacklock said. “For me, when I started into it, I thought it was going to be a dry musical, but I was wrong. It will exceed expectations. The cast has a lot of talent.”