Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Robust: Adam Campbell as Tevye
Soaring performances, production, fuel Cabrillo Stage's 'Fiddler on the Roof'

Back in 2012, the Cabrillo Stage summer musical series mounted one of its most successful productions, Anything Goes. It was a frothy 1930s period piece built around vintage Cole Porter songs, and featuring what may be the single most electrifying production number in CS history, a massive syncopated tap extravaganza to the title tune, in which everyone but the orchestra was onstage dancing.

That show was directed and choreographed by Kikau Alvaro, making his CS debut. And now Alvaro is back in the same capacity for the second production of the company's current season, Fiddler On the Roof.

True, there are few opportunities for ensemble tap dancing in this enduring tale about the denizens of a poor Jewish shtetl in a remote area of Russia toward the end of Tsarist rule. But Alvaro still delivers a wonderful production of this classic musical, vividly imagined in the design and dance departments, and blessed by a knockout centerpiece performance by Adam Campbell in the central role of Tevye, the dairyman.

The original 1964 production was directed and choreographed by the great dance maestro, Jerome Robbins (whose choreography Alvaro reproduces here, according to the credits). And while the dancing is terrific, this is not a show that depends on dancing; rather, it's a moving tale of life, love, family, and, of course, tradition, in an era of changing values.

Tevye is the engine that makes this show go. Campbell's great singing voice can be big and expressive, or soft and sweet, and his wry demeanor is irresistible, whether conversing with God, or in his robust rendition of Tevye's signature song, "If I Were a Rich Man."

Upholding "Tradition"
 A poor dairyman whose assets amount to one milk cow and a lame horse, Teyve and his wife, Golde (Marianne Thompson, another fine singer) have five daughters to see settled, with the help of village matchmaker, Yente (Alice Hughes). A staunch upholder of "Tradition" (as laid out in the rousing opening number), Tevye's worldview is challenged as, one by one, his three eldest daughters choose their own husbands for love, rather than submitting to arranged matches.

In terms of production and performance, this Fiddler is rich indeed. (Read more)

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