This month Curve audiences have been treated as the Curve Young Company and Community team bring Joseph Stein’s musical Fidder on the Roof to the stage.
Early on, we meet Tevye the milkman – a family man with a wife, Golde, and five daughters. Tevye is negotiating rapidly changing times as his community in the small village of Anatevka is thrust into political upheaval, set against the backdrop of the growing anti-semitism of Czarist Russia in early 20thcentury.
It’s a community that has relied on the importance of tradition, which is the basis for our show. We’re told at the close of the opening number that “without tradition, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof”.
The eldest three of Tevye’s five daughters are looking to marry and are desperate for the village matchmaker to find them a worthy match for their own happily-ever-after. However, upon realising that Yente the matchmaker’s matches are more often than not far from ideal, they begin to break with tradition and contemplate their own matches which, up until now has been considered “unheard of, absurd”.
When each of the daughters find their own match and go against the wishes of the local matchmaker, Tevye must find a way to convince his wife which sets the scene for some pretty amusing moments.
Our leading man is played by Bill Hinds, who creates a strong portrayal of Tevye and effortlessly holds the production together. I’ll be honest, at time his timing was a little off and his vocals are not the strongest to grace Curve’s stage, but all-in-all his performance was a very strong one.
Tevye’s wife, Golde, was played by Debbie Longley. I really enjoyed her performance and her vocals seemed to get stronger and stronger throughout the production. She had every ounce of the fierce, strong-willed but deeply devoted character that Golde is known for. The three eldest daughters (Lauren Russell, Hannah Willars, Rose Caldwell) were all absolutely charming and perfect for their roles with very strong vocals to match.
This is by far the biggest cast I’ve ever seen in a production. A cast of 102, it honestly blew my mind just how many people were involved in this show. At times I wondered if there really was a need to fit so many people on the stage, but I corrected myself as soon as I remembered the very nature of this production is to give as many people as possible the opportunity to perform at Curve.
I have no idea how you would even start directing a cast this big, so a huge hats-off for director Sarah Ingram and choreographer Melanie Knott for sculpting an incredibly well-crafted performance.
For anyone who hasn’t seen Fiddler on the Roof, it’s not one of the most upbeat performances you’ll ever see. It doesn’t end on a happy-go-lucky, toe-tapping beat that’ll have you whistling all the way home. You may even possibly leave the theatre feeling more downbeat than you were when you entered (something that rarely happens for me when watching musical theatre). But, that is no reflection of the performance of our fantastic cast who really did pull it out of the bag tonight, and actually I don’t think it’d be right to paint a truly horrific political system as ending ‘happily ever after’. So, while Act 2 might not have you grinning from ear to ear, it may just get you and your children thinking about a time and place very different from your own.
I really enjoyed the Curve Young Company and Community team’s production and it goes without saying that I think the rest of the theatre industry could learn a lesson or two about inclusivity from this production. It was also incredibly impressive to witness the sheer talent that sits right on our doorstep. Well done to all!
Reviewed by Rosie Bambury
Photo: Pamela Raith
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