As Tevye proudly boasts within the first few minutes of Fiddler on the Roof, it is a story of tradition, and it could be argued that Fiddler is the traditional legitimate musical, performed on many a stage across the world... however this week at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford & District Operatic Society have breathed new life into 'tradition', and what a show it is.
Director Nicholas Maxwell-Earnshaw's beautifully touching modern day morals for the production show the audience from the pre-show exactly why they should sit and watch this production unfold, it would be a disservice to ruin the stunning visual metaphors within this review, however the moment that the parallels come full circle acts as a chillingly thought provoking tale of morality. A masterstroke.
The main cast themselves are a treat to watch, despite the differences in setting, every single member of the cast gave a performance that was not only relatable, but completely true, the decision to drop the Russian accents of some characters worked in favour of the production, and you really did feel every moment of emotional joy, pain and loss within their respective journeys.
Rob Mincher played an astoundingly good Tevye, and was perfect leading man material, his breaking of the fourth wall to speak out to the audience in his prayers to God were heartfelt yet humorous, he held the audience in the palm of his hands, as even in some of his characters more unlikeable moments, you couldn't help but want the best for him, his chemistry with his onstage wife Golde, played by Jane Steed was perfect, you could see the two of them were enjoying their scenes together so much onstage!
Kelly-Marie Edwards, Michelle May and Emily-Jayne Nicholls make a fearsome trio as Tevye's unmarried daughters Hodel, Tzeitel and Chava, their vocals soared from The Gatehouse stage, and Edwards' delivery of Far From The Home I Love was beautifully sang, ringing every piece of emotion of the song, as we saw Hodel's tentative choice.
They were joined onstage by a wonderful supporting cast, including Craig Chesters as the stern faced Lazar Wolf and the wonderfully wimpish Motel, played by Mark Phizacklea. Both of these characters had tremendous journeys throughout the show, that were executed wonderfully, and characterisation for both roles were completely on the nail.
For this production, SDOS were joined by their younger youth group MYTS, and it would be criminal to not mention the astounding talent that they have on display, every single member that took to the stage, ranging from 7-17, were confident and understood their place within the piece perfectly, it was a joy to watch.
The future looks bright for Stafford Operatics, who will now be changing their name to Musical Theatre Stafford, to take a show that everyone knows, and to show it in an inventive new light, is not an easy task, but they made it look easy. We see hope, loss, laughter in this production but the true metaphor that I took away, is to treasure individuality, along with tradition, and at such a turbulent time in the world, Fiddler on the Roof has shown it has a very important message to share.
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