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Fiddler on the Roof - Top Show!

Claire Griggs as Golde and Owen Watts as Tevye. Photo by Martin Pulley.

Fiddler on the Roof, Rugby Theatre from 21-29 June, directed by Mark Tolchard.

Review by Ann Evans

From the opening moments of this musical you know you’re in for a real treat. First comes the haunting sound and appearance of a fiddler on a roof and then enter Tevye (Owen Watts), a Jewish milkman with a strong and powerful voice that is clear as a bell.

In moments we learn that the lives of the villagers in this little Russian town of Anatevka are as precarious as a fiddler on the roof – but what bonds them all together is tradition. The curtains open and we are in Anatevka, it's 1905 and the cast lead by Owen Watts are straight into a wonderfully rousing performance of 'Tradition'.

Sabbath Prayer. Photo by Martin Pulley.

This opening song, which echoes throughout the 2 ½ hour performance, is fabulous. The powerful and melodious voices of Owen Watts and this talented 32-strong cast raise the roof. With a 10-piece live orchestra, and that lively, catchy rhythm of Russian Cossack-style music. the whole routine is hypnotic. As an opening scene ‘Tradition’ is absolutely wonderful and drew applause normally reserved for a finale! And as mentioned earlier, you knew straight away you were in for a treat!

L-R: Daughters Chava (Laura Jane Wells), Hodel (Zsofia Preddle), Tzeitel (Becca Shaw). Photo by Martin Pulley.

Fiddler on the Roof is a classic story that premiered on Broadway, New York, back in 1964, finishing its original run after a record-breaking 3,242 performances. It’s the story of Tevye, his wife Golde (excellently portrayed by Claire Griggs) and their five daughters – Tzeitel (Becca Shaw), Hodel (Zsofia Preddle), Chava (Laura Jane Wells), Shprintze (Florrie Stuart/Luna Chang Araujo) and Bielke (Thea Rust/Bella Swan). Tradition has it that marriages are arranged. In fact, the town has its official Matchmaker – Sue Avison as Yente, a loveable busybody who is usually first to impart the news – or gossip.

Drink and be merry! Photo by Martin Pulley.

It's also the Pappa’s role to give his permission for a marriage to take place, but times are changing, and Tevye’s three eldest daughters are breaking with tradition, each wanting to marry for love. This causes Tevye quite some anguish and his soul-searching conversations with God reveal how torn he is between keeping the faith and tradition – and his love for his family.

Younger daughters Bielke and Shprintze with radical student Perchik (Matt Watson). Photo by Martin Pulley.

There’s lots of humour in the show, but also there’s a threat hanging over the town brought by the Constable (Alec Brown) that there’s to be a demonstration in the town. It’s the start of worse events to come. But meanwhile there is a wedding to prepare as Tzeitel wins her father over and marries her penniless tailor Motel (Anthony Bright) rather than the man her father had chosen for her, Lazar Wolf the Butcher (Matt Everitt).

The marriage of Tzeitel (Becca Shaw) and Motel the Tailor (Anthony Bright). Photo by Martin Pulley.

With such a famous musical as Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye’s rendition of 'If I were a Rich Man', seemed like a song everybody was waiting eagerly to hear. And Owen Watts did not disappoint – a great voice and great acting! Likewise the three eldest daughter, Becca Shaw, Zsofia Preddle and Laura Jane Wells all sang beautifully.

Wedding celebrations! Photo by Martin Pulley.


That goes for the entire cast in fact, they give a magnificent performance. Wonderful music, outstanding singing and some very beautiful and memorable scenes such as the Sabbath Prayer scene, and a fantastic ‘dream’ scene concocted by Tevye to convince his wife that Tzeitel should marry Motel the Tailor.

Star performance by Owen Watts as Tevye. Photo by Martin Pulley.

While the cast really are fantastic, those behind the scenes should also be congratulated on bringing this production together, in particular Director Mark Tolchard, Musical Director Matt Winkworth and Choreographer Carrie Gamble - an exceptional production all round!

1 Comment

Jul 01

Rugby theatre delivered again! Such a brilliant cast and performance. Amazed at the choreography of the show, so many people on stage and dancing. Love a good show and have never been disappointed. Well done to all and look forward to the next production.

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