“Fiddler on the Roof” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – January 29, 2020


Broadway Across America, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

The one big question about the endless returns of “Fiddler on the Roof” to ASU Gammage is why this over produced musical is back again.  It doesn’t matter if the production is good, bad, or indifferent; the show has played ASU Gammage a myriad of times and it has played just about every other theater in town.

The latest production is decent if not spectacular but it boasts a strong Tevye, the likeable dairyman with his shrewish wife Golde and their five daughters, in Yehezkel Lazarov.  Of course, Tevye’s three oldest daughters push the envelope. They reject the traditional matchmaker and their parents wishes to marry for love.  One weds a penniless tailor, another chooses a rebel, and the third marries outside the family’s faith.

The rest of the cast does nothing special with the well worn roles that have been played just the same by a huge number of performers since the show premiered in 1964.  All the wonderful songs composed by Jerry Bock with pointed and often poignant lyrics by Sheldon Harnick are well sung by the leads, a large ensemble, and are accompanied by a small but able orchestra under John Mezzio’s stalwart direction.  Bartlett Sher’s staging and Hofesh Shechter’s choreography mirrors Jerome Robbins original production right down to each repetitive gesture and movement.  It would be nice if this revival had a modicum of creative freshness. The sets look nothing like Boris Aonson’s original and they lumber into place without the genius of the original production’s revolve that made the show so fluid.  Costumes look just as drab as they did originally but they are appropriate to represent the small and poor Jewish settlement.

I certainly respect and admire “Fiddler” but after seeing it so many times and with nothing new in this current production it seems time to give the show a well deserved rest.  The tired “Fiddler on the Roof” plays through Sunday, February 2.  For tickets, contact Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade: B

Let me speculate about future local Broadway seasons.  The 2020/21 Broadway season has not been officially announced but several shows appear set.  A road version of the hit play revival, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” will play here.  Previously announced was a return of “Hamilton,” and the tour of the hit musical “Frozen.”  Also likely is the recent Broadway revival of “My Fair Lady” directed by Bartlett Sher which apparently takes a new look at the classic musical.  The musical smash “Hadestown” will hit Tempe as will the ill-fated musical disaster of the popular movie “Tootsie.”  The jukebox musical “Aint Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations” is scheduled and an optional attraction may be a return of the dreadful “A Christmas Story.”

Some guesses on the 2021/22 local Broadway season may include the just closed “Oklahoma” revival that looks at that classic hit with a fresh interpretation, ”Moulin Rouge!,” Broadway’s current biggest hit, another jukebox musical success “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,“ and “Beetlejuice are expected.  Let’s see how close these guesses are when the seasons are officially announced.