“Fiddler on the Roof” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – January 9, 2017



Arizona Theatre Company, Herberger Theater Center

Phoenix, AZ

As the curtain rises on Arizona Theatre Company’s superb “Fiddler on the Roof,” the residents of Anatevka, a small 1905 Russian community, chant “Tradition,” proclaiming something critical to these people as the Jewish settlement is stripped of familiar things that make this their home.  Displacing religious mainstays, the imposed choices aren’t things the town believes.  So the staid community, never full of adventurers, decides to move around the world hoping to retain the things they cherish.

The 1964 musical, which won a slew of awards when it premiered, continues to sparkle today over 50 years later, because it speaks a universal message that is relevant today for people living in a fractured world facing new and unexpected challenges.

Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s rich score contains such well known tunes as “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” and “Miracles of Miracles“ among others and is coupled with Sholem Aleichem’s touching story about Tevye, the town’s milkperson, commentator, and guide, as he grapples with abundant changes.  These people thrive on their traditions and use them to tackle with wisdom new directions in long honored values.

The crowning achievement here is ATC’s artistic director David Ira Goldstein’s artful production that finds every touching moment in the story, enjoys every comedy bit, and relishes every joke, while boasting a top notch cast, an exquisite set, and historical costumes that display the people’s poverty while a jubilant cast proclaims every residents hopeful joy.  The magical production marks the end of Goldstein’s 25 year tenure of running ATC with one of the company’s finest productions.

Having seen the original production, ATCs version rivals it and is blessed with Eric Polani Jensen’s stirring and emotionally moving Tevye.  The excellent cast supporting Jensen’s marvelous Tevye, includes Anne Allgood’s gruff and gutsy wife Golda, five wonderful performers playing the couple’s daughters, and two stirring young men who wed two of the daughters.  The entire community is highlighted by Kate Jaeger’s gossipy Yente, the all-knowing Matchmaker.

ATC exquisite “Fiddler on the Roof” is perfect to every minute detail.  If you’ve never seen “Fiddler” don’t miss this flawless production but even if you’ve seen a myriad of “Fiddler’s,” this one allows you to experience every nuance of this magnificent show.  It continues through January 29 but should never close.  To order tickets, call the Arizona Theatre Company box office at 602-256-6995 or order tickets online at www.arizonatheatre.org.

Grade: A