Tag Archives: Jason Carr

Fiddler on the Roof
★★★★★

Menier Chocolate Factory

Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof

Menier Chocolate Factory

Reviewed – 6th December 2018

★★★★★

“warm and intimate, yet vast and epic at the same time”

 

“Fiddler on the Roof” is based on the stories of one of the most famous and beloved of all Jewish writers; Sholem Aleichem, who came to be known as the ‘folk singer’ of the Russian shtetl. Written between 1894 and 1914 the stories were a series of stand-alone monologues told by the character of Tevye to the reader. Aleichem had started to amalgamate these into a dramatic adaptation but died before he could finish it, but what he had already managed to do in his tales was to capture the hunger and the passion of his people trying to survive under desperate circumstances, but also the humour and the irony.

The often-staged musical has reflected this with varying degrees of success, but it is safe to say that Trevor Nunn’s revival hits the notes perfectly with a truly magical mix of mockery and menace. The story centres on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as outside influences encroach upon his family’s lives, not least of which is the edict of the Tsar that evicts Jews from Russia. At the same time, he is coping with the strong-willed actions of his three eldest daughters who wish to marry for love and whose choice of husband moves further away from the customs of the faith and heritage that he is, sometimes reluctantly, clinging onto. This production brings to the fore the deeply rich humour of Joseph Stein’s book. But we are never quite allowed to escape the shadow of the impending threat of exile.

Andy Nyman makes this show his own with his portrayal of the patriarch ruled by his wife, Golde (a perfectly pitched performance from Judy Kuhn). Nyman’s effortless stage presence sculpts a wholly heartfelt and honest portrayal of his character, veering between tradition and compassion, and bending his beliefs, where necessary, for love. He knows exactly when to switch on and off the comedy, a skill matched by the entire ensemble. The same sensitivity is applied to Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics. Often unfairly branded as kitsch, the poignancy and the irony are accentuated by the fine performances. And combined with Jerry Bock’s sumptuous score, orchestrated for an eight-piece band, it is an exceptionally moving piece of musical theatre.

Choreographer Matt Cole remains faithful to Jerome Robbins’ original which is a feast for the eye. In fact, all our senses are treated to this outstanding rendition. Full of belly laughs it is a cry from the heart. The gorgeous strains of “Sunrise, Sunset” segue into a euphoric wedding dance which, in turn, is broken by the arrival of a vicious tsarist pogrom.

It is warm and intimate, yet vast and epic at the same time. It speaks softly to each of us yet its message shouts out to all of us. The source material is over a century old, but it is still sadly topical and the final scene where the villages flee their homeland is breathtakingly stirring. The musical ends not with a bang but a whisper. Not with a chorus line but a band of silent souls heading towards an uncertain future. The lone fiddler is beckoned, and he steps down from the roof to follow them.

All that can follow this is the standing ovation this production deserves. A production that is heading towards a far from uncertain future.     

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Johan Persson

 


Fiddler on the Roof

Menier Chocolate Factory until 9th March

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Gronholm Method | ★★★★ | May 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Lorna Dallas

Lorna Dallas – Home Again

Live at Zedel

27th June 2017

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

“Emotional power and stunning vocal strength”

 
The Crazy Coqs is the perfect space for cabaret. To take your seat at a lamplit table in this beautiful Art Deco space is to step into an intimate performance atmosphere, and as soon as Lorna Dallas came into the room, it was clear that she was indeed ‘Home Again’ after two decades away. Buoyed up by the enthusiasm of a warm crowd, her pleasure at being back on a cabaret stage was palpable, and infectious, and her two opening numbers – ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, segueing into Sondheim’s ‘Back in Business’ – set the tone for the evening. Emotional power, stunning vocal strength and clarity and lots of theatre were there from the outset, and it was clear that, as an audience, we were in safe hands.

Dallas’ musical director, and friend of 29 years, Jason Carr, was at the piano, and together they run a tight ship. The programme zipped along, and Dallas moved deftly between Gershwin, Novello, Jerome Kern and more modern American composers with whom she has worked. In the first half, Gershwin’s ‘Home Blues’ sounded smoky and terrific; Novello’s ‘Waltz of my Heart’ fizzed like a champagne cocktail, and the South Pacific belter ‘Younger than Springtime’, almost exactly half way through the programme, brought the house down.

Lorna Dallas

Stand-outs in the second half were the beautifully poignant ‘Before the Parade Passes By’ from Hello Dolly, and the penultimate song, Novello’s ‘My Life Belongs to You’, which was sung as a thank you to us, the audience, and received a well-deserved standing ovation in return.

Dallas and Carr’s duet, Sondheim’s ‘You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow’ was the only number which didn’t quite work for me, caused simply by Carr’s inability to match Dallas’ vocal strength, but their shared sense of fun papered over the cracks and it seemed churlish not to join the party. In the second half of the show, as Lorna Dallas smiled out at the crowd at the end of a heartfelt rendition of ‘Bill’ from Showboat, an enthusiastic audience member shouted out ‘Still got it!’ And yes, she certainly has.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Darren Bell

 

Live at Zedel

 

Lorna Dallas

performs one more ‘Home Again’ show at Live at Zedel  at The Crazy Coqs on Tuesday July 4th.