Raleigh Little Theatre opened this season’s Teens on Stage project with Fiddler on the Roof, the musical tale of Tevye, a dairyman, and his family in the small village of Anatevka. The work has a cast of thirty-two, making it one of the largest presented in the Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre. High enthusiasm and concentration marked the opening, with a fine sense of ensemble and individual acting.
A prime example of the excellent work performed was seen in the music, in which many of the company numbers, including the trademark “Tradition,” were led by Tevye (Ben Pluska) and then incorporated the entire cast through choral song and traditional dance. The accompaniment was provided entirely by Ben Mygatt as the Fiddler and on piano, under the music direction of Yvonne Koch. These company numbers showed a high degree of professionalism in the cast, which worked as a whole to bring about a successful conclusion to this production.
The play is performed on a set made of natural wood, which emphasizes the rustic quality of the work. Scenic designer Jim Zervas has made a set that is well adapted to the stage and brings together the multiple levels available on the two-story set. The cast moved well in the space, with little or no problems in logistics and proper placement.
Director Linda O’Day Young has made full use of this set, moving the cast across the full span of the area, incorporating shops, booths, and work areas of this small village. From the butcher Lazar Wolf (Connor Gerney) to the beggar Nahum (Alyssa Hartzheim), this cast represents a full village of townsfolk bent on day-to-day living and the struggles they face in this small and poor village.
Highlights of this production were the aforementioned “Tradition,” Tevye’s solo performance in “If I Were a Rich Man,” and the full-company sequence marking the dream that Tevye tells his wife Golde (Isabella Ibanez). This number brings into play the ancestors of the family, as they debate the worthiness of Motel the Tailor (Parker Perry) as a fitting husband for Tzeitzel (Olivia Olsen), Tevye’s eldest daughter.
As the lead and spokesperson for the town of Anatevka, Ben Pluska as Tevye has a heaping role to play, and he performed with skill and a strong sense of the tradition that is so evident in this play. From his solo work to the intricacies of the company numbers, Pluska worked to keep the show moving forward, controlling the tempo and keeping things brisk. It is a major role for anyone to play, and Pluska did the role proud.
Raleigh Little Theatre produces a work by Teens on Stage every summer, assembling a large cast and crew to give a stirring and well-performed production. As this year’s offering, Fiddler on the Roof gave us a fine cast and brought all of the students together into a single, homogenized unit. It provided a fine night’s entertainment for a full house of attentive patrons. Fiddler on the Roof is a hallmark in the annals of Teens on Stage, with high marks in enthusiasm, dance, music, and performance.
Fiddler on the Roof continues through Sunday, August 3. For more details on this production, please view the sidebar.