Review: Fiddler On The Roof
Image courtesy Playhouse Theatre
Direct from its sold-out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Tony and Olivier award-winning director Trevor Nunn's 'exuberant revival' (The Telegraph) of the classic Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof transfers to the West End for a strictly limited run.
The Playhouse Theatre will be specially transformed into an immersive space for this 'shiveringly intimate chamber musical about family' (The Times).
Old traditions and young love collide in this joyous and timely celebration of life.
Tevye's daughters' unexpected choice of husbands opens his heart to new possibilities, as his close-knit community also feel winds of change blowing through their tiny village.
Featuring the iconic score including 'Tradition', 'Matchmaker, Matchmaker', 'Sunrise, Sunset' and 'If I Were a Rich Man', and packed with Jerome Robbins' original Tony award-winning choreography, Fiddler on the Roof'bursts from the stage' (Financial Times), bringing new life to one of the most beloved musicals of all time.
Claire HeavenPerformance date: Thursday 27 June 2019
Trevor Nunn is usually a good bet in the theatre world.
He has directed some great productions, won numerous awards and was even named as one of the most influential people in British culture by the Telegraph in 2008.
So when I heard that Trevor Nunn was directing a new production of Fiddler on the Roof, I thought it would be a good idea to see it.
While I did enjoy it - the production is definitely lively - I found my mind wandering a few times during the long performance (it's almost three hours).
If I'm not captivated during a show, then something is definitely missing.
The story revolves around Tevye, who has five daughters.
Tevye tries to maintain Jewish traditions in the face of change - both personal and political.
There is an underlying theme of persecution of the Jews, overlaid with the more modern challenges of marrying for love and not for one's faith - or father!
It is an interesting story in itself, but the telling of it feels disjointed with an abundance of songs breaking the flow.
At times, it's hard to understand what is going on!
Interestingly, the original Broadway production, which opened in 1964, ran for over 3,000 performances.
I can only imagine that there wasn't something better on at the time.
Normally, when the story falters, the stars and songs can prop up a production.
For me, there was really only one actor that stood out from the others.
Thankfully, that was the lead actor - Andy Nyman.
While he's not the best singer, he was very believable as Tevye.
You could feel his angst and struggle, being torn between the love for his daughters and the love for his religion.
He was also terrific at delivering the one-liners, with a little twinkle in his eye.
He, by far, got the most laughs of the night.
Apart from Mr Nyman's performance, no one else really stood out.
And while the music was 'ok', it was just that.
Not one number stood out as exceptional.
The music was fine while it lasted, apart from one screeching, terrible rendition of 'Tevye's Dream'.
But it was also forgettable.
Generally, after I've seen a musical, I'm humming one or more of the tunes for the next few days.
I couldn't recall any of the Fiddler tunes, just the next day after seeing it.
The only other redeeming point of the production was the set design and costumes.
While the backdrop didn't change for the duration, it brought a traditional Jewish village to life.
There was clever use of doors to enter and exit the stage.
And all the costumes and additional set pieces really added an extra, rich - and much needed - layer to the tableau.
So is Fiddler on the Roof worth seeing?
It's a fair production but I wouldn't miss something else just to see this show.
And I wouldn't pay top price for tickets.
We sat in the front row of the Upper Circle for £30 and we were able to see everything.
However, there were people at the back of the Upper Circle that struggled to see much of the production.
Also, be warned - the Upper Circle gradient is very steep.
So if you have vertigo, then book seats in the Stalls or Royal Circle.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Playhouse Theatre
Our show listing for Fiddler On The Roof
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