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Posts Tagged ‘Fiddler on the Roof’

How can I hope to make you understand
Why I do what I do,
Why I must travel to a distant land,
Far from the home I love. 

The song “Far From the Home I Love” has long been one of my favourites from Fiddler on the Roof, yet it was only during my fifth viewing of AIM Management’s production that I realised how apt the lyrics are for travellers like myself. 

Flying into Toronto, en route to London

I’ve been asked many times recently why I’m travelling, and each time I find myself rather flabbergasted because, well, I can’t imagine not wanting to do this. 

Usually, I just say that I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t planning travel; that as soon as I got a job at age 15 I began placing the majority of my earnings into a “travel fund”; and that my trip to Japan at age 19 cemented my exhilaration over exploring other cultures (and other culture’s food). 

Yet after spending four days with the musicians who help make AIM Management’s Fiddler on the Roof so memorable and moving, I have a new explanation for why I, and hopefully others, travel to distant lands: 

Because sometimes, when you take a chance and throw yourself into a new experience, you get gifted with beautiful, uplifting, laughter-filled and friendship-creating days that shimmer above all the jet-lag-induced oven burns*, flight delays, and moments of loneliness, and remind you that not only is life worth living, but you’re worth living it. 

(Yes, I realise this is bordering on Hallmark. I’m not trying to sell anything, though, so bear with me.) 

Motel's sewing machine: You work it with your foot AND your hand!

I watched Fiddler four times in Coral Springs. Consequently, I feel confident stating that this group of performers, musicians, and crew members are more than proficient at what they do. Each performance was as passionate and funny as the last, with the 11-piece orchestra playing a key role in heightening the story through the music. 

(Side note: You know how some fancy restaurants offer Chef’s Tables, whereby patrons can sit in the kitchen and watch the chefs cook the food served to them? I think theatres should start selling premium seats in the orchestra pit. Speaking from experience, there is nothing like being among the musicians as they play. My evening spent in the orchestra may have been my favourite of the lot.) 

Open your door, I'll be your tenant / Don't got much baggage to lay at your feet / But sweet kisses I've got to spare / I'll be your lover and I'll cover you. (It appears the Coral Springs Center for the Arts has hosted other shows before, but we shan't hold that against them.)

Even more fun and happy-making than watching the performances were the moments in between, such as when I chatted to members of the cast (Thesa Loving, one day I’ll make it to Austria and the concert hall you raved about), saw how sets and lights were operated, and brainstormed with the effervescent producer Don Westwood about finding financial backing in Australia for a Fiddler Down Under tour. (I think this will involve me wearing my new Fiddler shirt at opportune moments.) 

After trips to Boca Raton for Guinness, trips to Starbucks for coffee, trips to delis for sandwiches and pickles, and trips to the poolside in the early hours of the morning for post-performance wind-downs, I can say that the musical theatre life is rather a rewarding and superb one (of course, I didn’t have to do any of that “working” bit). 

Last Bit!

And just to close, I have to send a few messages to the musicians with whom I spent the most time… 

To the trombonist: I win. You will never get me inside an Outback Steakhouse. 

To the trumpeter: It only took me four attempts today to turn on my computer with my stick. I’m getting better at this. 

To the accordionist: I promise to relay your message to “the old girl” when I see her – and maybe, one day, you’ll be able to in person. 

To the flautist: Your smile. *hug* 

To the violinist: I wish I could entertain everyone so much simply by referring to petrol stations. 

To the music director: Awed by your talent. And thank you. 

Dibs on the feather-rigged pillow. And the butter churn. I'm rather tired of making my own butter by hand every morning.

* Apparently, one’s reaction time after getting 6 hours of sleep in 48 hours is not so stellar. Apparently, one doesn’t bother to run one’s hand under cold water, much less look for medication, when one gets a nasty burn from pulling a pie out of the oven after getting 6 hours of sleep in 48 hours. Apparently, this results in a rather a lot of hurty later on.

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And if our good fortune never comes,
Here’s to whatever comes,
Drink l’chaim, to life!

Donald Westwood, executive producer of AIM Management’s Fiddler on the Roof introduced the show by thanking us, the audience, for “taking a chance” on the new company. Fiddler on the Roof is AIM Management’s inaugural production, and Westwood informed us we were pioneers with immense power over the future of the theatrical arts in Savannah (and, perhaps, the success of the company itself).

Well, if I do have any such power, I here use it to proclaim that AIM Management’s production of Fiddler on the Roof is entirely brilliant and a delight to watch. The story of Fiddler on the Roof is itself filled with poignancy and humour, yet it takes a passionate and talented cast to bring the tale’s evocation of family, community, human interaction, prejudice, oppression and, above all, love to life. Luckily for AIM Management (and the audiences), its performers, musicians, and stage crew have passion and talent to spare.

Lucas Theatre, Savannah

The Lucas Theatre

From my centre seat in the front row, I was able to watch both the musicians and the faces of the ensemble cast as well as the main characters, and it was a joy to see how dedicated the performers were and how much fun the musicians were having. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the musicians (when they weren’t busy playing beautifully, of course) watch the show and laugh along with the audience, despite the fact that they must have seen the show countless times in performances and rehearsals. There seemed to be a real camaraderie amongst the company (or else they’re even better actors than I thought). This not only made me miss my days of playing in a musical ensemble, but ensured I had to fight the urge to sneak on stage during the lyrical and heart-wrenching rendition of “Sunrise, Sunset”, because all I wanted at that moment was to be a part of the music and story.

Bruce Goldman as Tevye perfectly embodied the patriarch whose commitment to “Tradition!” and what “The Good Book says!” can always be adapted to accommodate his love for his family, while Thesa Loving’s talent came across beautifully during (though not only during) “Do You Love Me?” – one of my favourite songs. Joe Byrne’s depiction of the nervous yet optimistic Motel was highly entertaining, and Erin O’Neil, Shayna Albertson, and Nicole Brooke Brancucci’s voices shone as Tevye and Golde’s three eldest daughters. A special shout-out to Albertson, whose rendition of “Far From the Home I Love” (another favourite, along with “Sunrise, Sunset” and “To Life”) was striking.

Honestly, I can’t fault a single performer; even the minor characters were consistently focused, fun to watch, and had fantastic voices. I was able to get a photo with the hilarious Susan E. V. Boland (Yente); surely only good can come from being close to a matchmaker, right? I also chanced upon a photo with the charming Michael Kennan Miller (Fyedka), and must admit: if any man as gorgeous as that ever wants to whisk me off my feet, I too will go against my father’s wishes in order to be so whisked. (Michael, if you ever do get to visit Australia, let me know and I’ll be delighted to show you around… or at the very least give you some pointers so that you don’t make such horrible mistakes as saying “aluminum” instead of “aluminium”.)

Kangaroo. In Australia. (Well, it's not like I could take photos during the performance.)

As someone who’s spent a large portion of her life playing musical intstruments, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the musicians who, though only 11 in number, created such a symphony of sound that one might have guessed them to be twice the size. (As an aside, I got some giggles out of being able to read the conductor’s sheet music. I thereby knew not only when each significant song was being played, but when the music was for “Tevye’s Monologue”, “Final Scene – Underscoring”, or “Bows”. I had a chat with the lovely (and rather cute) conductor, Samuel Clein, who has a spot in my heart for having conducted several Sondheim musicals in the past, including Into the Woods. Samuel, if you ever put on Assassins, can I come and be your page turner? Please? I’ll also bake delicious brownies.

The dancing and choreography were great fun to watch, particularly during “To Life” and the Bottle Dance at Tzeitel and Motel’s wedding. From the kookiness of “The Dream” and the power behind “Tradition” to the joyful “Miracle of Miracles” and the moving strains of “Anatevka”, the performers and musicians gifted the audience with nearly three hours of wonderful song, harmony, laughter and, of course, entertainment.

I had no idea Fiddler on the Roof would be playing in Savannah during my time here, and as the company only put on four shows at The Lucas Theatre, I feel incredibly lucky that it was. Thank you to the ensemble for a wonderful afternoon, and I hope to see you all touring in Australia soon. Remember – delicious brownies.

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