THE KIRRIEMUIR Operatic Society staged ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in Kirriemuir Town Hall last week to enthusiastic and appreciative audiences.
The story starts in 1905 with a Jewish Community in Tsarist Russia trying to make a living in the village of Anatevka.
Tevye, the far from affluent milkman, has five daughters and is trying to find husbands for the eldest three.
He always strives to keep up with the old traditions of his faith and culture.
Inevitably this causes family tensions with his daughters, culminating in the third daughter being disinherited for marrying a non-Jewish Russian.
In the background there is on going tension between the Russians and the Jews which in the end results in the villagers of Anatevka being forced from their homes.
Although the storyline does not sound like a bundle of laughs, the script is laced with a fair amount of humour. However, the real moral of the tale is that no matter what, the indomitable spirit of the Jewish people lives on.
The Fiddler on the Roof is the personification of this spirit.
The main characters are husband and wife Tevye (Jim Walker) and Golde (Eleanor Birse). Incredibly this is the third time they have played these roles in 1988, 1999 and 2013.
Their performances were impeccable.
They were completely in character throughout and their singing and acting were first rate. Jim’s rendering of ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ was particularly memorable.
The three eldest daughters, Tzeitel (Ruth Doctor), Hodel (Naiomi Weir) and Chava (Tamsin Glass) were well cast and played their parts to perfection.
Their performance of ‘Matchmaker’ was one of the highlights of the show.
The two younger daughters Shprintze (Emma Lowther) and Bielke (Imogen Walker) played their parts well and showed they are destined for greater things in the future. Helen Shearer played the parts of Yente the busy body matchmaker and a ghost like figure in the dream sequence.
Quite a contrast but handled with aplomb by Helen whose singing in the ‘Dream’ is worthy of a mention.
Lazar Wolf (Derrick Shearer) and Motel (Rob Hardman) were rivals for the eldest daughter’s hand.
Rob as the nervous, impecunious tailor was very convincing and sang and acted well as did Derrick as the wealthier and not-too-happy older suitor.
Perchik (Lorcan Dyer) won the heart of the second daughter. Lorcan is a talented young actor and will be a great asset in the future.
Unfortunately he was sent to a labour camp in Siberia.
The third daughter fell for a Russian soldier called Fyedka (Andrew Smith) who, like Lorcan, was a young and gifted actor.
However, by flaunting tradition, the young couple were immediately disinherited by Chava’s father Tevye.
As I said, not a bundle of laughs but the family dramas and the poignancy were well handled by the cast, particularly so in the final scene when Tevye closes the shutters of his home for the last time and then invites the fiddler to accompany him as he starts his new life.
The relatively minor roles of Mordcha (Dave Gee), Rabbi (Martin McKay), Mehdel (Ernie Patullo), Avram (Rae McLaren), Grandma Tzeitel (Davina Farquharson) – singing as beautifully as ever, Yussel (James Keenan), Constable (James Arnott), Shaindel (Cath Hardman), Sasha (Graham Turner) and the fiddler (Douglas Taylor) were all solidly played and contributed to the success of the production.
Sound and lighting were ‘spot on’ and the stage crew made an excellent job with the scene changes in a minimalist and effective set.
The orchestra made an enormous contribution to the show.
They are all talented musicians and under the musical direction of Gordon Smith they became a splendid orchestra which sounded just right and enchanted all the performances. In this show, not surprisingly, the fiddler plays a major role and special mention must be made of Linsey Stewart on violin.
Gordon Smith must take great credit, not only for the orchestra, but for the quality of singing, particularly where the full company was involved. The choral work was first class, obviously a lot of hard graft had gone in and it showed.
‘Kirrie Opera’ is in good shape at the moment and one gets the feeling they are capable of tackling anything.
The ability to deliver must in some way be down to experience and competence of producer Chris Smillie. She has once again completed the difficult jig-saw which is a musical production and given us a truly memorable show.
Long may she stay at the helm,
Contributed by Bill Drew.