A review of Footlights Theatre Company latest production.
THE hit musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ will always be associated with the charismatic actor Topol as Tevye the milkman and his lengthy conversations with God.
Any actor, amateur or professional with sufficient ‘Chutzpah’ to attempt to follow in the great mans footsteps, must carry the heavy burden of the show’s success or failure on his shoulders.
Tony Sim was the chosen one when the Costa Blanca-based Footlights Theatre Company launched their version of the musical last month.
At the end of the evening, thanks to Tony, I am pleased to say that ‘Fiddler’ survived the event without breaking a single string. Based on the short stories of ‘Russia’s Mark Twain’ Sholom Aleichem, ‘Fiddler’ tells the story of a poor patriarch living in the small Ukraine town of Anatevka during a time of great political, cultural and revolutionary change.
Jews are being evacuated from entire towns and villages and young Jewish adults are bucking the traditions of arranged marriages. Tevye and his wife Golde (great support from Val Turner) make ends meet with their five single daughters who whittle away the days doing chores while preparing themselves for arranged marriages via the village matchmaker.
Whether daydreaming about wealth and happiness (‘If I Were a Rich Man’), recovering from a night of celebratory vodka (‘To Life’), or during one of the most emotional moments of the whole show when discovering his love for his wife for the first time in twenty years (‘Do You Love Me?’) Tevye communicates with his audience, inviting them to take a peek into his world and into his mind and heart.
Tony’s performance took us on a journey of laughter and sorrow, sudden tempests of vandalism and, in the end, to eviction and exile from a place that had been not only been their home, but the very centre of life itself.
Having said that, one performance does not stand up without being surrounded by a bucketful of talent – something Director Trevor Harder cleverly wove into the fabric of the production. Great supporting cast, (at the last count 37) imaginative choreography arranged by Barbra Lloyd and Val Turner, fabulously authentic colourful costumes, sets and clever lighting designed by Ian Underwood, Mike Burgess and Desmond Webb, and one of the best musical scores I have had the pleasure of listening to in many years thanks to the maestro himself, Roger Dean.
And in case anyone thought it had gone unnoticed in the semi-darkness, I was particularly impressed with the smooth open scene changes, linked with Jewish musical interludes and silently performed with great precision by cast and crew in costume.
Stage manager Mike Moore, take a bow.
Words and Pictures by Benny Davis