A Piece of “Tradition” You Don’t Want to Miss!

A review of Fiddler on the Roof,
performed by The Driftwood Players
by Rachel N.

Almost everyone has seen or at least heard of the classic movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” but it’s not every day you get to see it performed live. Through December 21st, however, anyone can have the pleasure of seeing this amazing musical performed by the Driftwood Players at Wade James Theatre (voted #2 Best Theatre Group in Western Washington of 2008) in Edmonds – and it certainly was a pleasure! It’s hard to compete with the 1971 film adaptation, but Driftwood’s endearing cast and lively choreography does pretty darn well.

“Fiddler on the Roof” is a story of the small, tradition-based Jewish village of Anatevcka in Russia, 1905. We follow the peasant Tevye as his lifestyle of tradition is threatened by his daughters’ wishes to marry men not chosen by a matchmaker, ethnic violence against the Jews, and foreshadowing of a political revolution in Russia. The original production won 9 Tony’s and 3 Academy Awards, and holds a very dear place in every musical-loving heart.

Wade James Theatre may seem a little small, but it has a friendly atmosphere, with Christmas décor in the lobby and donation-basis cookies and coffee at intermission. Considering the Driftwood Players are a nonprofit, self-supported group, I wasn’t expecting too much in the way of sets and costumes. But boy, was I wrong! The costumes were very historically accurate, as well as detailed: Tevye had a patch on his vest and scuffed-looking boots; the scene changes were quick, but didn’t take away from the lovely sets; and even the use of lights and effects added to the story. One particular scene is set in a graveyard, and I was very pleased with the set crew’s use of a fog machine!

It was easy to hear all the soloists from the front row, but at times it may have been a bit of a strain for those in the back of the audience. There were a few minor technical glitches in the first scene, but nothing else went wrong for the rest of the show. Everyone behind the curtain definitely seemed to know what they were doing, making sure nothing went wrong for the actors onstage. Furthermore, it was evident that the props managers did their homework on Jewish culture: each doorway had a mezuzah (an encased sacred parchment hung on the doorpost of Jewish homes) and the newspaper in one scene even had Hebrew writing. In my opinion, however, the best detail was the live music, especially the presence of a “real” fiddler, not just someone miming to a prerecording.

Overall, the actors were quite impressive. There were one or two singers I felt weren’t quite at the same level as the rest of the cast, but it was an overlookable flaw. John Klise, who played Tevye, did a great job considering the magnitude of his role, and his three daughters, Tzeitel (Traci Biegenwald), Hodel (Lindsay Powers), and Chava (Karin Redden), were no less delightful. It was obvious every actor onstage had worked long and hard on multiple songs with impressive choreography, as well as individual lines and blocking.

When the house lights came up at the end of act one, the whole audience was buzzing about who their favorite was, what they liked, and how much they were enjoying themselves. I was no less enthusiastic. Although it’s not exactly a “happy ending” kind of show, I had a smile on my face when I walked out the door at the end of the evening. Tickets are $20-$23, a very reasonable price considering the superb quality of both the costumes and its actors. However, seating is not assigned, so make sure you get there in plenty of time to grab a good seat. But regardless where you sit, you’re sure to leave the theatre humming the tunes and tapping your feet . This is one piece of “Tradition” you won’t want to miss!

Fiddler On The Roof plays now through December 21st, 2008
at Driftwood Theatre in Edmonds
950 Main Street, Edmonds WA

for tickets and information:
visit www.driftwoodplayers.org
or call 425.774.9600
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