Broadway at TPAC presents:
Fiddler on the Roof (June 25 - 30; All ages)
TPAC's Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 | tpac.org
Remaining showtimes: Wed - Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45 - $95

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) wraps up its 2018-19 Broadway Series with a spectacular, soul-stirring production of one of Broadway's most beloved — and timeless — musicals, Fiddler on the Roof.

With music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein, the original Broadway production opened in 1964. It made history being the first musical to surpass 3,000 performances. It also won nine Tony Awards, including best musical, book, direction, score and choreography.

Fiddler on the Roof has seen five Broadway revivals in 1976, 1981, 1990, 2004 and 2015. The tour that's at TPAC this week is Director Bartlett Sher's 2015 revival with additional choreography by Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter (based on the original choreography by Broadway legend Jerome Robbins).

"Fiddler" cast performing the audience-favorite "Bottle Dance."

A MAGNIFICENT MUSICAL EXPERIENCE

This is the absolute best production of Fiddler on the Roof I've ever experienced. This vibrant, three-hour musical is highly engaging from start to finish, filled with so many astounding, unforgettable numbers like "Tradition," "If I Were a Rich Man," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "Sunrise, Sunset," "The Wedding," "Do You Love Me?" and more.

The robust cast delivers each musical number with vibrancy while executing Robbins' and Shechter's sharp, exquisite choreography — especially with the crowd-pleasing "bottle dance" during Tzeitel's wedding. This phenomenal number finds the dancers balancing wine bottles on their heads, and Schechter adds more gravity-defying moves to this favorite scene.

Another standout scene is "Teyve's Dream," in which he pretends to wake up from a nightmare, and Golde interprets his dream as he "describes" it. The arrival of Lazar Wolf's dead wife, Fruma-Sarah (Olivia Gjurich), from the grave is mind-blowing as the larger-than-life ghost glides across the fog-infused bedroom.

Michael Yeargan's simple, succinct approach to the show's set design allows the audience to focus on the immensely talented cast.

Olivia Gjurich as Fruma-Sarah hovering over Yehezkel Lazarov
during "Tevye's Dream."

A TERRIFIC TEVYE

Israeli actor Yehezkel Lazarov stars as Tevye, the poor, Jewish dairyman raising five daughters in the fictional Ukrainian village of Anatevka at the turn of the 20th century (in a time where the Russian Tsar evicts the Jews from their homes).

Tevye, firmly rooted in the traditions of his family and faith, faces an internal crisis when one by one his three oldest daughters — Tzeitel (Mel Weyn), Hodel (Ruthy Froch) and Chava (Natalie Powers) — buck the customs of their upbringing and opt to marry for love instead of arrangement by matchmaker Yente (Carol Beaugard). Tevye's also a dutiful husband to his sharp-tongued wife, Golde (deftly played by Maite Uzal), and he struggles with the familial challenges to his authority as "Papa." 

Natalie Powers (Chava), Mel Weyn (Tzeitel) and Ruthy Froch (Hodel).

The 45-year-old Lazarov has an extensive background on stage as actor, director and choreographer, in addition to numerous TV and film roles. His talent brings authentic depth to the heart and soul of Tevye. Lazarov is a comedic craftsman, too. The libretto to Fiddler on the Roof contains a lot of wit and humor, and Lazarov delivers laugh-out-loud moments for the audience over and over again. Hands-down, Lazarov is the best Tevye I've ever seen. Whether he's pleading with God, fantasizing about life as a rich man, struggling to maintain tradition in the face of change, questioning and contemplating his own self, remaining resilient in the face of injustice or embracing unstoppable change on several counts, Lazarov brings to life every drop of emotional grit on all spectrums.

One of Lazarov's most endearing moments is when he sings the heartfelt "Do You Love Me?" to Golde as he inquires about her true feelings for him within their own arranged marriage.

Yehezkel Lazarov as Tevye.

FIDDLER'S STAYING POWER

The universal relevance and enduring presence of Fiddler on the Roof is stark. It's a multi-layered story with relevance for all, namely in the shift that occurs in young adulthood when it's essential to stand up for ourselves, even if it means defying family.  In an interview with Nashville Parent, Lazarov speaks to the importance of young people breaking rules and its value to human development.

 

Paul Morland (center) as The Fiddler.

Of course, Fiddler ends on a somber note when the Cossacks raid Anatevka, sending all of its citizens into exile and ending the traditions of the village forever. In a world where refugees will always be a reality, this theme in the show contains a powerful resonance.

Overall, Fiddler on the Roof homes in on the precarious balance of life that all human beings face. As Tevye points out, it's as if we're all fiddlers on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking one's neck.