‘Fiddler on the Roof’ dances its way to Capital One Hall

Dancing sets the tone for this iconic musical that brings life and humanity to Jewish peasants facing antisemitism in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Several elements of Bartlett Sher’s revival of Fiddler on the Roof vie to steal the show at Capital Hall One. Hoffesh Shechter’s updated choreography for this fast-moving musical wins. From the excitement raised in the show’s opening number, “Tradition,” to the mournful “Anatevka” at the close, the villagers’ dancing sets the tone for this iconic musical that brings life and humanity to a village of Jewish peasants facing antisemitism in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Scene from the national tour of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ Photo from @FiddlerBroadway.

Much of Fiddler on the Roof deals with culture clashes: Tevye, the family patriarch, tries to instill tradition in his family — and find husbands for his daughters — in the midst of great social upheaval. One example of this culture clash comes after Tevye (Danny Arnold) irons out the engagement negotiation of his oldest daughter, Tzeitel (Kelly Gabrielle Murphy) to Lazar Wolf (Andrew Hendrick), a man considerably older — and rounder — than young Tzeitel. First traditional Jewish dancers joyously celebrate the impending nuptials. Then Russians, at the same pub, honor Lazar Wolf with an exciting Russian dance including some elements of crawling. By the end of “To Life,” both parties drag the older, drunker, flat-footed Tevye and Lazar onto the dance floor.

Scene from the national tour of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ Photo from @FiddlerBroadway.

While the acting, dance, music, and joy of the scene is important to the storyline, it also represents the only moment in the musical when Jewish and non-Jewish Russians recognize and respect each other as equals. (The dancers include Arnold, Morgan Cohen, David Scott Curtis, Eddieomar Gonzalez-Castillo, Jonathan Hashmonay, Elliot Lazar, Randa Meierhenry, Caryle Messman, Ali Arian Molaei, Max O’Connell, Honza Pelichovsky, Lauren Blair Smith, Alex Stone, Rossie Webber, Scott Willits and Audrey Rose Young.)

Arnold plays his role as Tevye, a poor Orthodox milkman to near perfection. He is smaller than past Tevyes have been. That helps to sell his peasant role. This milkman, “blessed with five daughters,” has a strong set of beliefs but an ability to change his mind. Since his oldest daughters are hellbent on marrying for “luv” instead of the traditional matchmaking, he must learn to be flexible. Tevye’s monologues with God add humor and insight into the character.

When one daughter, Chava (Carlye Messman, understudying Noa Luz Barenblat), decides to marry out of the faith, a very emotional father confronts her and forbids such a union, which would be an unpardonable sin for the family. The woman follows her heart and is disowned by her father and community. Messman’s performance will tug at your heart.

Another performer who captures several scenes is Brooke Wetterhahn. She plays Yente the matchmaker and also Grandma Tzeitel in a dream scene. She plays the little old Jewish woman to a tee. Wetterhahn mastered the elderly walk and overplayed the Yiddish accent, but it works for her.

Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s music and Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics continue to stand the test of time with another compelling production of the 1964 Broadway classic. Traditionalists will appreciate Tevye and Golde’s (Maite Uzal) “Do You Love Me?” After the couple’s daughters follow their hearts, Tevye asks his often-complaining wife of 25 years if she loves him. She reflects on the question through several verses before deciding. Her answer is more a reflection of reality than romance.

Scene from the national tour of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ Photo from @FiddlerBroadway.

The national tour of Fiddler on the Roof is at Tysons for only one weekend, which is unfortunate because the show deserves a longer run. In a nod to current events taking place in Russia and Ukraine, Arnold reads a statement at the end of the performance dedicating the performance for the people of Ukraine. While Fiddler on the Roof takes place in 1905, Anatevka, the fictional town where Tevye and his family live, is located on land that is part of modern-day Ukraine. This should not be forgotten given current headlines and the parallels of persecution past and present.

Running Time: Approximately three hours, including one intermission.

Fiddler on the Roof plays through March 13, 2022, in the Main Theater at Capital One Hall – 7750 Capital One Tower Road, Tysons, VA. For tickets ($54.50–$129.50) call (866) 341-4583 or purchase online.

To download the Fiddler on the Roof digital program text “HALL” to 55741.

COVID Safety: Capitol Hall One requires all audiences to provide proof of vaccination and wear a mask to attend all live public performances and events at indoor venues. Complete mask and vaccination requirements are here.

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