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Fiddler on the Roof: Cast Two

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Fiddler on the Roof
(Fiddler Playbill Listing)
At the
Minskoff Theatre
200 West 45th Street
A Nederlander Theatre

Book by Joseph Stein
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Choreography by Jerome Robbins

Presenting: Harvey Fierstein as Tevye
Nick Danielson as Fiddler
Andrea Martin as Golde

Starring: Sally Murphy as Tzeitel, Laura Shoop as Hodel, Tricia Paoluccio as Chava, Alison Walla as Shprintze, Betsy Hogg as Bielke, Nancy Opel as Yente the Matchmaker, David Wohl as Lazar Wolf, Yusef Bulos as the Rabbi, John Cariani as Motel, Paul Anthony Stewart as Perchik, Richard Poe as Constable, Patrick Heusinger as Fyedka, Haviland Stillwell as Grandma Tzeitel,
and Joy Hermalyn as Fruma Sarah

Papas: Philip Hoffman, Mark Lotito, David Rossmer,
and Bruce Winant; Mamas: Lori Wilner, Ann Van Cleave, Rita Harvey, and Joy Hermalyn; Sons: Chris Ghelfi, Robert Wersinger, Randy Bobish, Jeff Lewis, and Francis Toumbakaris; Daughters: Melissa Bohon and Haviland Stillwell; Nachum, the Beggar: Tom Titone; Boy: Michael Tommer; Russians: Adam Zotovich, Ward Billeisen, Keith Kuhl, and Shane Braddock; Bottle Dancers: Randy Bobish, Chris Ghelfi, Jeff Lewis, Francis Toumbakaris, and Robert Wersinger.

Directed by David Leveaux
Music Director: Kevin Stites
Musical Staging: Jonathan Butterell
Set Design: Tom Pye
Costume Design: Vicki Mortimer
Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt
Sound Design: Acme Sound Partners
Hair & Wig Design: David Brian Brown
Casting: Jim Carnahan
Music Coordinator: Michael Keller
Orchestrations: Don Walker
Additional Orchestrations: Larry Hochman
General Manager: 101 Productions, Ltd.
Press: Barlow*Hartman
Production Manager: Gene O’Donovan
Flying Sequences: ZFX, Inc.
Production Stage Manager: Katherine Lee Boyer
Producers: James M. Nederlander, Stewart F. Lane/Bonnie Comley, Harbor Entertainment, Terry Allen Kramer, Bob Boyett/Lawrence Horowitz, and Clear Channel Entertainment

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 22, 2005

(See March 9, 2004 Review). When I reviewed Alfred Molina as Tevye, I applauded the multi-ethnic approach to the story of “everyman”: the father, who tries to provide for his family in the midst of hardship and changing times, the mother, whose love never dwindles, in spite of personal disappointment, the three of five lead daughters, each with a private passion, each with the need for self-expression, and, of course, a bevy of papas, mamas, sons, daughters, a beggar, a matchmaker, a rabbi, a grandma from the grave, a butcher, a deceased wife from the grave, Russians, a constable, bottle dancers, one boy, and one fiddler. Harvey Fierstein enhances this story of “everyman” in the obvious, and not so obvious, ways. Harvey Fierstein is a humble, human, and humorous Tevye.

Mr. Fierstein has a voice like prickly pear, a body like dough, and a personality like hot sauce! He sings without hesitation, and his outsized persona and presence make up for the downsized “musicality” of his tone. If I Were a Rich Man and Do I Love You?, sung with Golde, contain more talking than singing; in fact, Golde, played by Andrea Martin, is also more persona and presence than rich vocalizations, but, once more, Ms. Martin is perfection of the part, a diminutive, domineering, and daring Golde. When she eventually embraced her daughters, no matter the issues (independent marital choice, marriage to a revolutionary, and marriage outside the faith), she seized the stage with motherly dismissal of obstacles, with a need for survival of the family.

There were a few more cast changes in this new production, including Laura Shoop as Hodel, Patrick Heusinger as Fyedka, Paul Anthony Stewart as Perchik, Richard Poe as Constable, two of the Bottle Dancers, and the two younger sisters, among others in smaller roles. What Tevye and Golde may have lacked in musicality, the sisters and their respective lovers exuded in rich, youthful strength of seamless sound. Sally Murphy as Tzeitel, Laura Shoop as Hodel, and Tricia Paoluccio as Chava all possess lovely and lyrical voices. John Cariani as Motel, the tailor, has perfected his hyper-kinetic body language to split-timing and pantomime gesture. He is now hilarious, rather than annoying. Paul Anthony Stewart, new as Perchik, was a bright and buoyant presence; Patrick Heusinger as Fyedka, was charming, but a bit too patronizing; Richard Poe, as the Constable, has mastered the art of seemingly split personality: friend and foe.

David Wohl and Yusef Bulos, as Lazar Wolf and Rabbi, are still entertaining, although Mr. Wohl seemed a bit immature for the elderly, feisty, rejected butcher. Nancy Opel, as the matchmaker, is one of the best character actors around. I remember Ms. Opel from Polish Joke, one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen, and her ability to assume the innermost humor of Golde and bubble over with deadpan mirth is a sight to see. Nick Danielson remains the quintessential Fiddler, and his angular bent positions and slow violin bow choreography, during and between soulful scenes, are mesmerizing.

Less touted stars of this entire production are Tom Pye and Brian MacDevitt for sets and lighting, which keep the orchestra in full view, under the changing scenes and foliage, and which keep the backdrops interesting with silhouetted figures against moonlight, sunlight, sunset, and fog. When stage left opens to ominous rays of smoky light, one just knows the pogrom is pounding forward. Soldiers’ boots soon appear on the shady stage. The top and moving portion of the set sometimes holds the Fiddler, as he appears and disappears like a fantasy in flight.

Kudos to Harvey Fierstein, to David Leveaux (Director), to the writers (Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick), original choreographer (Jerome Robbins), and the entire cast and stage staff of Fiddler on the Roof. Don’t miss this cast.

Harvey Fierstein as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof
Photo courtesy of Carol Rosegg

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at