This is a stunning revival of a classic musical. An exceptional cast tell an epic story, and the singing and dancing is both uplifting and delightful.
Set in an effective village square set by designer Robert Jones, we enter the theatre and sit surrounded by trees and a path winding through the audience This makes our direct experience with the characters especially intimate.
Tevye, a hard-working milkman (Andy Nyman) and his wife Golda, (Judy Kuhn) live in a small, predominantly jewish village raising 5 daughters. Although arranged marriages are normal in their community, each daughter finds the way to express their interest in a loving marriage over a traditionally arranged one.
After meeting the hilarious comic personalities in the village of Anatevka in the opening number ‘Tradition’, we have a longer visit to Tevye’s household with Yente the Matchmaker, played with comic relish and expert timing by Louise Gold. Yente suggests that the wealthy but elderly town butcher Lazar Wolfe (Dermot Canavan) marries their oldest daughter, who has fallen in love with the mild-mannered tailor Motel (Joshua Gannon). The imaginative Tevye is forced to concoct a dream to convince his wife that a marriage to Motel would be a good idea. In some of the production’s most original choreography by Matt Cole, the dream takes on a surreal and lasting memory.
While Tevye’s daughters are finding love, the village safety is threatened by pogroms, and the inhabitants are eventually warned to leave their home with very little notice.
Andy Nyman’s touching Tevye brings a comically detailed wistfulness to his character’s dream of being wealthy, and gets strong support from Judy Kuhn’s strong yet tender Golda. They sing some of the evenings most beautiful duets, including ‘Sabbath Prayer’ and ‘Sunrise, Sunset.’
In the supporting cast, Motel (Joshua Gannon) brings a shy building courage to his role as the mild-mannered tailor, encouraged by his sincere fiancé Tzeital (Molly Osborne). As the revolutionary student Perchick, Stewart Clarke sings with power and thought about his love of Hodel, played by Harriet Bunton, who sings with truth and sincerity of the difficulty of leaving her home and family in ‘Far From the Home I Love.’
A comic rabbi (Fenton Gray) has a humorous blessing for just about everything, and a wedding bottle dancing spectacle makes for an exciting Act One finale.
The book by Joseph Stein could have given more content to the characters of Chava and Fyedka, Tevye’s youngest daughter who falls for a man who isn’t jewish. With this slight reservation, the Music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick fill in the underwritten blanks in the character journeys.
Director Trevor Nunn has assembled an exceptional and authentic production full of laughs and tenderness, in a welcome transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory.