A large audience turned out Friday evening for the opening night of Santa Catalina’s production of Fiddler on the Roof, which will be running for four performances during the next two weeks. The stagecraft for this production was ingenious in the way it used modular units on stage (the back of each unit representing parts of a different scene), which could be joined and then moved easily, quickly and silently in between scenes. It worked brilliantly. Stage lighting and sound management were likewise effectively managed and enhanced each scene. Director Lara Wheeler Devlin deserves a lot of credit for making all the complicated elements of this production work so well together. Musician Chris West also deserves kudos for the way she kept the nine musicians in the pit totally coordinated with the action on stage.
The fact that the actors on stage in men’s roles were all played by girls worked so well, that after a few minutes the illusion was complete and we were totally convinced they were men, not women. The principal actor, Tevye, played brilliantly by Bailey Belleci Brewer, was amazing in the way she could project so many different moods and postures on stage. Matchmaker Marissa Schimpf and Tevye’s long suffering wife Golde, played by Sophia Lamarque, added a lot of energy and color to the production.
Tevye’s daughters were very charmingly played by Hattie Keys, Samantha Scattini, Katalina Villareal, Charlotte Juge and Nicole Korinetz. The men seeking matrimony with the daughters, Motel the poor tailor (Maddie Mizgorski), Perchik the radical from Kiev (Maddie Elkin) and Lazar the wealthy butcher (Courtney Kostva) were important roles and each in his own way was totally convincing.
Some of the best makeup and costume effects were observed in the dream scene as scary ghouls from the grave flitted around Tevye’s bed while his long dead grandmother, played by Abbey Davis, looking like a refugee from a zombie movie, was a masterpiece of effective makeup and costuming.
As we expected, all the great scenes from Fiddler on the Roof were just as they should be —- a satisfying blend of action, dance and song, heightened by the energy and dramatic flair of the principal actors. I am still wondering how the cast members dancing with bottles precariously balancing on top of their hats managed all their moves without not even one of the bottles crashing to the stage.
It’s a very successful and charming production, and you have three more opportunities to see it, so don’t miss it. Incidentally, I dressed up theatrically for the event and came in a long black coat and wearing a black bushy Russian hat adorned with a gold double-headed eagle. I considered myself an uncredited member of the cast representing the evil spirit of oppressive Czarist Russia.