Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires

Fiddler on the Roof
Downtown Cabaret Theatre
Review by Zander Opper | Season Schedule

Also see Zander's review of Passing Strange and Fred's review of Peerless

Lou Ursone
Photo by Kevin McNair Photography
Downtown Cabaret Theatre is currently presenting a wonderful production of Fiddler on the Roof. This is one musical that, no matter how often it is revived, always manages to work. The current staging of the Joseph Stein (book), Jerry Bock (music), Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) classic boasts a superb Tevye, played by Lou Ursone, a good-looking physical production, and a wholly marvelous cast. Director Joel Fenster has fluidly staged the show, and Jerome Robbins' choreography has been terrifically reproduced by Lindsay Johnson. But, at the real heart of the show, Fiddler needs characters we care about, and the Downtown Cabaret Theatre production is blessed with distinctive actors portraying all the lead roles. So, even if you have seen more than your share of productions of this classic, the Downtown Cabaret Theatre staging can still be strongly recommended.

When the audience enters the theatre, the curtain is already up, revealing Leif Smith's beautiful set design. Director Joel Fenster takes the somewhat unusual step of having the entire cast walk in a line through the audience and then up onto the stage. This works by making the audience feel like part of the community of Anatevka. Of course, the opening number is "Tradition," which is splendidly sung and danced. From his first line, Lou Ursone establishes himself as a strong Tevye and, indeed, he is the solid center of the entire show, as he must be. This actor magically brings the character to life right from the start, and is riveting through to the end.

Crucially, the members of Tevye's family are similarly well-acted. As Tevye's wife Golde, Karen Hanley brings a beautiful voice and a warm onstage presence. The three main daughters are just as good. Sara Detrik is a marvel as Tzeitel, the eldest daughter, while Juliet Dale is a moving and radiantly sung Hodel. Kalle Meehan's fine Chava completes the trio and their opening number, "Matchmaker," is a real highlight. Juliet Dale gorgeously sings "Far From the Home I Love" late in the second act and I will confess that she moved me to tears. In fact, this Fiddler is quite touching throughout, and it is recommended that you bring tissues to the show.

Still, there are many joyous moments. Lou Ursone pretty much stops the show singing "If I Were a Rich Man" and his frequent scenes talking to God are completely delightful. As the intendeds to Tevye's two eldest daughters, both Bill Adams, as the nervous Motel the Tailor, and Eric Regan, as Perchik, are simply grand. Indeed, Bill Adams singing "Miracle of Miracles" is a true pleasure, and Eric Regan almost tops it with the joyful "Now I Have Everything." And, as long as we are talking about happy (and funny) moments in the show, Andrea Garmun is a hoot and all you could ask for as Yente the matchmaker.

Costume designer Jason Parry also deserves praise for his period perfect costumes for the entire cast. The expert Phill Hill provides a striking lighting design, and musical director Clay Zambo skillfully leads the terrific onstage band (the musicians are placed at the top of the stage, just slightly below the top of the set). As mentioned, Lindsay Johnson does a fine job recreating the original choreography and Kellen Schult, Timothy Sullivan, Bobby Henry, and Michael Major deserve extra praise for masterfully leading the Bottle Dance.

Downtown Cabaret Theatre's Fiddler on the Roof has an unusually large cast for this particular theatre, and the sense of the entire community of Anatevka coming together is a warm and beautiful sight to behold. This revival could be praised for Lou Ursone's ideal Tevye alone, but everyone in this company of actors is pretty great. Downtown Cabaret Theatre's Fiddler on the Roof is a joyous and overflowing production and it deserves to be seen.

Fiddler on the Roof continues performances at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, CT through December 20, 2015. For tickets, please visit or call the box office at 203-576-1636.

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