Strong cast showcased in Moonlight’s ‘Fiddler’
By Steve Dreyer
With “Fiddler on the Roof,” Moonlight Stage Productions Artistic Director Kathy Brombacher selected the perfect show for her final directorial effort.
The show displays all the things Moonlight has become known for under Brombacher’s tenure: good acting, strong singing voices (for the most part) polished choreography, great sets and first-rate costumes and lighting.
Retiring this fall after 32 years in Vista, Brombacher gets the most out of a talented cast of professional and amateur actors to bring to life the well-known story of the milkman-philosopher Tevye, his daughters and his little Russian village of Anatevka.
Brombacher knows the show well, having staged one of the first college versions while attending the University of Redlands thanks to the friendship between her professor and New York producer Harold Prince.
Heading the quality cast are Equity actors David Ellenstein and Victoria Strong as Tevye and Golde, the parents of five daughters. It’s 1905 and both political and cultural changes are coming to the remote village, testing Tevye’s faith and traditions. During the course of the musical, each of his three oldest daughters marries, the first selecting a husband that was not arranged for her, the second without his permission and the third, a man not of the Jewish faith. Tevye, after “on-the-other-hand” conversations with himself, agrees to the first two marriages, but opposes the third.
Think of the character Tevye and many immediately associate the role with Zero Mostel (stage) or Topol (the film). Those are high standards. In the Moonlight show, Ellenstein does a very good job with the acting portions of the role, infusing the right mix of seriousness and humor. He does the best he can with an average singing voice and is helped through several numbers, including the signature “Tradition” and “To Life” by an excellent chorus.
Strong is perfectly cast as the long-suffering Golde and has several special moments in the show, including “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Do You Love Me?” Special mentions also go out to Susan E.V. Boland as Yente the Matchmaker, Jamie Snyder as Lazar Wolfe, Charlene Koepft at the daughter Hodel and Timothy Allen as Motel, the tailor.
The show lasts three hours, with one intermission at about the two-hour mark. Last Friday night’s performance earned a standing ovation from a good portion of the audience.
To answer the bottom line question for inland North County theatergoers, yes, it’s worth the drive over to Vista.
“Fiddler on the Roof” runs through Aug. 11 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre, 1200 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista. Performances are Wednesday through Sunday nights. Tickets are $15 to $50. Call 760-724-2110 or visit moonlightstage.com for more information.
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