Hello everyone! Today I’m sharing my review on the musical Fiddler on the Roof.
I am currently on vacay but as promised, I have scheduled posts on the usual days (Wednesdays and Sundays) for you guys.
I had previously mentioned seeing this musical on my Chicago Weekend post not too long ago. This review did have to wait until the new year so while I’m sad it’s not up while the musical is still in Chicago, most of you guys reading my blog aren’t actually from Chicago, plus the musical is touring through the US and I think is pretty widely played usually so hopefully if you are interested in it you’ll be able to see a version of it.
With this musical, I’ve wanted to see it for awhile, and since it was in Chicago I was interested in seeing it, but it also wasn’t a huge priority musical for me. As the dates grew closer I didn’t think I was going to be able to see it at all since it was only two weeks I believe and most of it was over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, so I thought I’d be too busy. However, since I ended up being in the city anyway to see my sister and was already seeing one musical I decided to go see another!
I bought my ticket at a “day of show” discount, which was amazing. I got a seat in the left orchestra in row G of the Cadillac Palace Theatre, which is one of my favorite theatres downtown. I bought my ticket maybe an hour and a half or so before the performance so I did leave the theatre for a bit and came back a little before they opened the house. Once the house opened I quickly found my seat. It’s so much easier to find the seat in orchestra, I have to say. The ushers were only at the doors into the house, and pretty much only said if the seats were at the right or the left side of the aisle where I was entering. Since there’s more aisles higher up, I’m guessing that’s why most of them are directing people up there rather than down on the floor. I was among the first few people in and since I was close to the front it was easy to get the stage and playbill picture!
I spent the next half hour reading through the playbill, editing my photo (still too yellow for my liking now that I see it on my computer screen), and then starting to plan my Instagram post for it. I also answered a few comments for my blog (I’m always behind on those) and soon the musical started. Unfortunately, I always seem to get stuck behind the one tall guy accompanying his girlfriend or family members, which always sucks because then I can’t see the entire middle portion of the stage! Luckily he did move over a seat after intermission so it wasn’t terrible but that’s why I prefer left or right over the center areas, so at least I can see most of the stage from an angle. I did feel bad for the girl to my right though as most of the production she and I were both leaning to the right like crazy to see.
I think most people probably know the story but I could be wrong so I’ll be avoiding major spoilers in my review. I really enjoyed the story, and I did like how it was told. I did notice that there was a lot of time lapses, particularly in between act 1 and 2 but the story still flowed well. For example, the first part of the musical is pretty much told over the course of a few days with Tevye working, the family observing the Sabbath together, him going to see Lazar Wolf, then determining Tzeitel’s marriage plans. Then time jumps forward to his daughter’s wedding, and things really start moving from there. I think it is easiest to see the changes in time by watching Tzeitel and her story as she is shown pregnant and later with her baby. As the story moves forward the flow of time seems to get faster, which is relevant as for Tevye it must certainly seem that way.
As for the actors, they were all magnificent. I noticed some of the male parts were played by female actors such as some of the people in the bar when Tevye met Lazar and such. I could barely tell except that for the long hair that was secured at the actor’s base of their necks and then body structure differences. It was just a funny little thing I noticed that I may not have otherwise if I hadn’t been so close. One of the many reasons I enjoy trying new sections of the theatre, you just get a different perspective!
I really enjoyed the actors for Tevye, Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava the most though. It might be partly due to how much I enjoyed their characters as well, but they were just amazing! The acting was top notch, and their voices were great. It really came across how much each one of them cared about the show and the story they were telling. Natalie Powers is the actor performing Chava and she actually thanked me on my Instagram post about the musical for supporting the show. I thought that was a lovely extra bit that shows how much the cast loves what they’re doing. I’ve had Broadway in Chicago like or comment on my Twitter usually and sometimes the handle for the musical itself, and rarely a cast member like a post, but I can’t recall if a cast member had commented, which made it more special!
As for the music, it was as lovely as I could have imagined! I’ve always enjoyed the music of this story, and hearing it in person was just magical. It was so charming, but even more than that, it was captivating. I really enjoyed the long-time favorites such as “Tradition”, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”, “Sunrise, Sunset” and “If I Were a Rich Man” but I also found a new appreciation for a few others. I really loved “Miracle of Miracles”, “Far From the Home I Love”, and “Chavaleh” much more than I did before after seeing this performance. The “Sabbath Prayer” was also so sweet and such a great scene as well.
This musical, paired with Avenue Q, which I had seen the night before, was just so thought-provoking. Although they are so different at first glance, with one being about upholding family traditions and ties while the other has to display warnings about puppet nudity, they were both ultimately fighting to show the humanity in everyone. Both displayed clearly that everyone should be treated with respect and both had strong messages against discrimination of others. They did tie in quite nicely to each other in ways I didn’t anticipate.
Back to Fiddler, the set was adorable! I would have expected a simpler set for some of the scenes as they were only used a couple times. For instance, at the start the home of Tevye and Golde had an elaborate fireplace prop to show the kitchen of the home, but it was only used a few times. By contrast, the well outside their home was used a lot and therefore the details for it was expected. It was still nice how much care went into showing their home. By comparison, Motel’s store only really had a table and a door that turned to show if a character was entering or exiting, and it was also only featured a few times, like the kitchen. How set designers decide what they want to create and what they want to allude to is so interesting to me!
Costumes were fabulous as well. I would have thought there would be less costume changes as the family is often mentioned that they’re quite poor but I’m guessing as time is meant to pass a lot by the end that’s why there were a few outfit changes. Plus, with five sisters and their connections to the tailor I’m sure clothing was exchanged quite a bit between them all. It was very nice though to be able to see the patterns and how different each one was from the next.
One disappointing thing that I find isn’t as uncommon as you’d think is the microphones not being on at the right time. I’m not sure if this is a manual process or what but sometimes the mics the actors wear don’t catch the line, or only turn on halfway through the line. I did notice about three times in this one that the microphone didn’t catch the lines and although I could still hear them it was kind of strange that it didn’t work properly.
Another disappointment, although not the fault of the show, was another poorly behaving audience member! There was a person in the row behind me who took her elderly mother to the show and talked so much! It was so annoying to strain to hear the overtures when she kept asking her mom if she understood the scene and trying to whisper the plot to her! Even worse, the mom kept saying that she got it so the daughter just wasn’t listening to her mom and was continuing to be rude the entire time. Luckily she didn’t do it over the actors but still, the music is there for a reason. It’s meant to keep you engaged and in the story, and she was so distracting. Finally she stopped after the millionth time that I turned to look at her but only about halfway through the second act. I will say this theatre, although beautiful, does have ushers that don’t ever seem to notice anything or be around to be able to ask for help.
Overall, the performance was stunning! I am so, so glad I made the time to fit it into my weekend and see the show. It was so worth it and I loved how beautiful it was. I really recommend it if you ever see it performed near you!
So, have you see Fiddler on the Roof? Let me know if you have and how you liked it!
Thanks for reading!
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