If you know a little about musical theatre, you know that the opening number makes or breaks the popularity of a play. It sets the tone, introduces the theme, and hopefully brings you into the world the playwright wants to create.
The cast of Village Theatre's production of Fiddler on the Roof nails the powerful opening number "Traditions," which is also one of my favorite opening songs for a musical.
The rest of the play mostly holds up the bargain it makes with the audience during that first moving number, and the night I saw it with my niece the cast got a standing ovation from the completely full house.
Having seen Chaim Topol, who played the lead role of Tevye in the 1971 movie, in his last touring production of Fiddler, and knowing there are a lot of local actors in this 27-person cast, I went into the Village Theatre show with great hopes and a little trepidation, but I really liked Eric Polani Jensen in the lead role.
Jensen has a rich voice that did justice to the musical numbers penned by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, and I am ever in awe of how amazingly witty the old Poppa of four daughters' lines were crafted by playwright Joseph Stein. You can't help but love the character--and by extension, Jensen--as he struggles with the changes of the times for the Jewish community in 1905 Anatevka, Russia.
I have to also admit a little hometown pride seeing veteran Spokane Civic Theatre actress Bobbi Kotula as Tevye's wife, Golde. Another familiar face from Civic Theatre productions, John Lutyens, now a graduate of Western Washington University, plays Mendel, the rabbi's son.
Overall, with a mix of local actors and equity actors, the production is worth seeing, and there is some memorably great dance numbers (see the production photo of the perfectly executed bottle dance in the wedding scene in the photos).
It's a great holiday show to see with the family. Tickets and showtimes can be found at the Village Theatre Website here.