Tag Archives: Maria Friedman

Fiddler on the Roof (Cast Change)
★★★★★

Playhouse Theatre

Fiddler on the Roof (Cast Change)

Fiddler on the Roof (Cast Change)

Playhouse Theatre

Reviewed – 22nd June 2019

★★★★★

 

Friedman’s formidable presence is the perfect complement to Tevye; one that no Matchmaker could cap.”

 

Almost before Trevor Nunn’s “Fiddler on the Roof” opened last December at the Menier Chocolate Factory, it had ‘West End Transfer’ stamped all over it. Three months on from its relocation to the Playhouse Theatre it is still a richly deserved hot ticket. Settling into the larger space, the show has thankfully lost none of the intimacy and passion: there is always the fear of over-projection, but the subtlety and attention to detail of this production is beautifully intact, gently immersing the audience into the small Russian village of Anatevka in 1905.

Designer Robert Jones’ set – a ramshackle Jewish shtetl – spills out into the auditorium; the smokey darkness of the crooked wooden buildings backed by a foreboding bank of bare woodland, yet overlain with folk-tale lanterns and Tim Lutkin’s time-shifting lighting that conjures both the chilly light of an uncertain dawn with heart-warming twilight. A true reflection of the town folk’s stoicism in the face of their impending resettlement. Trevor Nunn has conjured up the perfect mix of mockery and menace in this atmospheric revival.

Based on the stories of one of the most famous and beloved of all Jewish writers; Sholem Aleichem, the story centres on Tevye, a poor Jewish dairyman, forever questioning ‘Tradition’, and the mysterious ways in which God moves. A patriarchal figure, his refusal to bend to the changing times is slowly eroded by the strong-willed actions of his daughters, who rebel against the custom of arranged marriage and choose to marry for love. Although he never quite lets go, Tevye’s grip on his heritage is increasingly fragile. Andy Nyman gives a stunningly natural and captivating performance of this central role. Whilst making light of his plight with precision-timed quips and asides, we are also continuously aware of his fear of the threat of exile and, more poignantly, his love for his wife and daughters.

In its first major cast change since the transfer Maria Friedman takes over as his wife Golde. Friedman’s formidable presence is the perfect complement to Tevye; one that no Matchmaker could cap. Their onstage chemistry evokes the hard-won intimacy built from the ups and downs of a twenty-five-year marriage; culminating in the tender self-realisation of their duet “Do You Love Me?” Friedman again pours the liquid gold of her voice over the achingly angelic “Sunrise, Sunset”, one of the choral highlights. In fact, the entire company do wonderful justice to Jerry Bock’s sumptuous score, with a sensitive, but never sentimental, interpretation of Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics. Molly Osbourne and Nicola Brown as the daughters Tzeitel and Chava are joined by Ellie Mullane impressively stepping in as Hodel. The three sisters give heartfelt performances, accentuating the satire often missed in “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”. The village matchmaker is indeed central to the story, and her role is made more vital by Anita Dobson who takes on the mantle with a thrilling energy, showing us her dab hand at comic timing.

But beneath this musical portrait of family and community is the solemn undercurrent of violence, anti-Semitism and persecution; sadly still all too pertinent. Matt Cole’s choreography, paying homage to Jerome Robbins’ original, shows how rapidly high spirits can descend into oppressed chaos, particularly when a vodka-soaked wedding dance is broken by the arrival of a vicious tsarist pogrom at the close of the first act. A threat that is taken to its tragic conclusion in the final scenes.

The human touch easily sits alongside the disturbing historical commentary. Yet, despite the epic themes, the staging of this production lends real intimacy to a thousand seat venue, and by avoiding the temptation to overplay to the rafters the emotional impact touches the heart with much more force. Its message is clear; but what is equally clear is that this quite simply is still a triumph of a show. Musical theatre at its best. Matchless.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Johan Persson

 

Playhouse Theatre

Fiddler on the Roof

Playhouse Theatre until 2nd November

 

Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:
Elegies For Angels, Punks And Raging Queens | ★★★ | Union Theatre | May 2019
Mycorrhiza | ★★★ | The Space | May 2019
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button | ★★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | May 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | Wilton’s Music Hall | May 2019
Vincent River | ★★★★ | Trafalgar Studios | May 2019
Pictures Of Dorian Gray (B) | ★★★ | Jermyn Street Theatre | June 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | The Bunker | June 2019
The Importance Of Being Earnest | ★★★★ | Tabard Theatre | June 2019
The Decorative Potential Of Blazing Factories (Film) | ★★★ | The Coronet Theatre | June 2019
Bitter Wheat | ★★★★ | Garrick Theatre | June 2019

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

 

Dusty

DUSTY

A NEW MUSICAL

Book by Jonathan Harvey

Directed by Maria Friedman

 

 

DUSTY, the first authorised new musical charting the life of Dusty Springfield is set to premiere in the UK in 2018. Details of dates, venue and casting are still to be announced.

Originating from the notes and memoirs of the late singer’s close friend and manager Vicki Wickham, DUSTY is written by Jonathan Harvey who tells the story behind this iconic artist having interviewed key people from her life including Pat Rhodes, Dusty’s lifelong personal assistant, and friend and record company executive Tris Penna.

DUSTY will be directed by Olivier Award winning Maria Friedman.

Dusty Springfield is one Britain’s most successful and enduringly popular singers, with hits spanning four decades. Born in London, she became known across the world for her soulful voice and iconic look. Her solo career began way back in 1963, and included the global hits “I Only Want to Be with You”, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” and ‘What Have I Done to Deserve This?’ with the Pet Shop Boys. Her 1969 masterpiece ”Dusty In Memphis’ is considered one of the greatest albums of all time and Dusty has been inducted into both the US Rock and Roll and UK Music Halls of Fame.

Jonathan Harvey wrote his first play in 1987, and has since written over 15 more, including Babies, Boom Bang-A-Bang and Beautiful Thing, which was later made into an acclaimed film. He has been the recipient of the Evening Standard, George Devine and John Whiting Awards, and his work has been both Bafta- and Olivier-nominated. Jonathan’s extensive television writing includes Coronation Street, on which he has worked since 2004, Beautiful People and Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. He has also written for shows as diverse as Rev, Shameless, At Home With The Braithwaites, The Catherine Tate Show and Tracey Ullman’s Show. He has also published five novels and been hailed as ‘the new theatrical voice of his generation’.

Best known as a three-time Olivier Award winning star of the musical stage, director Maria Friedman made an astonishing directorial debut in 2012 with a hugely acclaimed production of Merrily We Roll Along which won Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards 2013, the Oliver Awards 2014 (for which Maria was also nominated for Best Director of a Musical), and the Critic’s Circle Award 2013. She went on to direct High Society at The Old Vic in 2015 and is currently directing Stepping Out which will play the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre from March 2017.

DUSTY is produced by Eleanor Lloyd Productions whose recent projects include Nell Gwynn with Gemma Arterton, Olivier Award for Best Comedy (Apollo), 1984 (Playhouse, 2014, 2015 & 2016), My Night with Reg, Olivier Nomination for Best Revival (Apollo), and Handbagged, Olivier Nomination for Best Comedy, (Vaudeville and UK tour).