Sheffield University Performing Arts Society’s take on Fiddler on the Roof combines faith, tradition and love within a community facing oppression to produce a thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking musical.
Set in rural pre-revolutionary Russia, this classic musical centres around the life of poor dairyman Tevye and the Jewish community of the village of Anatevka. Following tradition (a recurring theme within this musical), Tevye is tasked with finding suitable partners for his three eldest daughters Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava. In doing so, he finds himself challenging his own values as each daughter acts unorthodoxly.
Faced with the rise of anti-Semitism in Russia, Tevye and the community of Anatevka turn to faith in a time of adversity. This production is a gentle reminder that life in an uncertain world is as precarious as a fiddler on a roof.
Mike Alexander’s performance as Tevye steals the show. His stage presence and voice captivates the audience, portraying the light-hearted protagonist’s tenderness. His ‘Tradition’ solo is executed perfectly, with excellent vocals and a flicker of humour eliciting a large applause from the audience, showcasing the success of this production.
Together with Niamh Finan as Tevye’s wife Golde, the duo create believable chemistry in their partnership, which credits superb casting and direction. Specifically, the ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ duet between the pair imparts the raw emotion a parent experiences as their children grow and rise to independence. The voices complement each other beautifully, and Finan’s bold acting sees her perform Golde’s fierce matriarchal role with great confidence.
The chorus support the lead cast with excellent vocals, enriching the impressive, emotive music played by the band. Choreography by Jess Brown significantly contributes to the success of the production, with a variety of dances for every tone of the musical.
The final number ‘Anatevka’ closes the show in an emotional setting, despite the frequent comical moments throughout the play, as the community of Anatevka, as well as Tevye’s family, divide. This powerful closing scene allows the audience a moment to reflect on the saddening yet relevant challenges faced by refugees, as well as the importance of faith in troubling times.
Charming music, acting and directing make Fiddler on the Roof a triumph. The production is a credit to all involved and sees SUPAS further cement their own tradition of producing mesmerising theatre.