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By Jacqueline Monahan
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Super Summer Theatre’s Fiddler on the Roof at Spring Mountain Ranch

The little Russian village of Anatevka came to life just as the sun went down on August 10th at Spring Mountain Ranch.  As the outdoor stage filled with its many residents, milkman Tevye (Byron Tidwell) led a rousing rendition of the opening song, "Tradition" from Super Summer Theatre’s production of Fiddler on the Roof.

 

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The Stage Before Sunset

Tevye’s ruminations guide the audience through village life for its tight-knit Jewish community.  He attempts to explain why their heads must be always covered, and why prayer shawls must always be worn.  Even he confesses to not knowing how these traditions got started.  He is only sure of one thing – they must be followed.

“Because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do,” Tevye tells us, going on to explain the significance of the title.  “We try to scratch out a simple, pleasant existence without breaking our necks.  How do we keep our balance?  Tradition!”  There’s a real fiddler playing on a rooftop, too, in case you were wondering.

 

Tradition
Tevye (Byron Tidwell, far left) Yente (Cass Van Gelder, center stage, brown skirt) and the Fiddler (Brenna Folger) Celebrate "Tradition" with Neighbors
Tevye has five daughters and how the three eldest Tzeitel (Courtney Theriault) Hodel (Amanda Kraft) and Chava (Mia Mekjian) fall in love and find their match – without the aid of Yente the matchmaker (Cass Van Gelder) – sets Tevye on a roller coaster ride of emotions that shake up the rules and makes him question tradition.  His wife Golde (Jennifer deAnne King) is a spirited, demanding matriarch; propriety is her priority.


Somehow his daughters marry for love – a radical idea.  Their husbands Motel (Alex Cheney) Perchik (Brian Gressley) and Fyedka (Aaron Barry) present a quandary for Tevye who ponders each predicament by weighing the pros and cons with “on the other hand…”

 

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Tevye and Hodel (Amanda Kraft) Say Goodbye

 

In the growing anti-Semitism of early 20th century Czarist Russia, Tevye and the Jewish community must reconcile the old ways with a changing world, even if that means starting over in a new land.

Standout performances are given by Byron Tidwell, a robust and vibrant Tevye, able to play funny, outraged, and confused with aplomb.  His rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man” is a crowd-pleasing tune that Tidwell injects with poignant humor.

 

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The Village Receives a Relocation Order

Amanda Kraft has a wonderfully operatic voice that makes Hodel’s wistful “Far From the Home I Love” even more haunting.  Jennifer deAnne King’s “Sabbath Prayer” and “Do You Love Me?” (in a duet with Tevye) showcase Golde’s strong, pure voice.  King, along with Cass Van Gelder as Yente commands the stage with formidable performances; Van Gelder is a comic gem as the village matchmaker.

 

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Golde (Jennifer deAnne King) leads the Sabbath Prayer

The entire ensemble creates an atmosphere of somber joy with “Sunrise Sunset” as the backdrop of Tzeitel and Motel’s wedding, and the six men who dance with bottles on their heads after the ceremony inspire spontaneous exclamations and bursts of applause from the crowd.

 

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Sunrise Sunset - Tzeitel (Courtney Theriault) and Motel (Alex Cheney) are Wed
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The Bottle Dance

“Chaveleh”, the play’s bittersweet musical lament sung by Tevye and danced by Golde and their three daughters (plus husbands) could have been a bit longer and seemed rushed.  Chava’s decision to marry Fyedka is the most heart-stopping development in the play, and her symbolic choice between the tradition-keeping fiddler (Brenna Folger in a beard) and her Russian husband would benefit from a bit more stage time.

 

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Chava (Mia Mekjian) and Fyedka (Aaron Barry) Plead with Tevye


The 2 ½ hour runtime passes quickly in two acts, even without an intermission.  

Directed by Joy Demain, Fiddler on the Roof is a joyous celebration of life and love in a bygone era.  Demain’s husband Pat is the Musical Director and the seven-person band makes a sound big enough to fill Anatevka AND Spring Mountain Ranch.

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The Residents of Anatevka Bid Farewell

An outdoor setting is particularly amenable for this type of production – showcasing a small town agricultural community that does a lot of their living in open air fields and on village streets.  The fiddler on this roof has actual stars above his (her) head for an authentic touch, and there’s much more to see and hear in the show than can be presented on this page.  The temperature is generally cooler here and balmy nights sometimes summon windy gusts that pummel the players and the stage and its props.

Still, the solitary Fiddler on the Roof plays on.

Produced by Jade Productions, Fiddler on the Roof runs from August 10-27, Wednesday-Saturday.  Showtime is 8:00 pm.

About Super Summer Theatre ’11:
Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the gate, and can be purchased at the UNLV Performing Arts Box Office, UNLV ticket kiosks at Town Square, Prestige Travel at Lake Mead and Rampart, or online at unlvtickets.com

Guests may bring a blanket or chair for use in general-admission grass seating, suitable for enjoying a picnic or treats from the very reasonably priced concession stand which stays open until 9:00 p.m.

Gates open at 6 p.m. Performances run Wednesday through Saturday beginning at 8 p.m.  Please Note: The final show (in September) for the 2011 Season is Clarke Peters’ Five Guys Named Moe which will run Thursday through Saturday beginning at 7 p.m.

Spring Mountain Ranch is located 10 miles west of the Charleston/215 exit.

For further information:

Super Summer Theatre
P.O. Box 81947
Las Vegas, NV 89180
(702) 594-PLAY (7529)
http://www.supersummertheatre.org












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