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Newbury Operatic Society - Fiddler on the Roof

7th to 10th April 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Very fine Fiddler indeed

Jeremy Mann heads an excellent cast in NOPS' musical set in 1905 Russia

Newbury Operatic Society: Fiddler on the Roof, at the Corn Exchange, Newbury from Wednesday, April 7 to Saturday, April 10

The story of a poor Jewish family living in Anatevka, that village that has the unique feature of a fiddler on the roof, takes longer to tell than many another musical and makes immense demands on the leading character.

However, a glance at the programme proved reassuring, for not only was the talented Jeremy Mann cast as Tevye, the Pappa, but that first-rate musician Michael Evans was in his customary place in charge of the always-excellent orchestra. It promised to be a wonderful evening, and so it proved.

With a gift for communicating with his audience, Mann took hold of the role and whether being rumbustious or reflective, dancing or distressed, made the most of every word, bringing to light nuances I had not recognised in other productions. A remarkable performance.

His rich voice blended well with that of Sam Spaak, a perfect foil as his wife Golde, and their duets were a delight, especially when leading the ensemble Sabbath Prayer. The three elder daughters, played by Kate Leek (Tzeitel), Danielle Craig (Hodel) and Natalie Issit (Chava), fitted into this excellent family well, bringing out the contrast between the characters.

Each had particularly memorable moments, Tzeitel pleading to marry the man of her choice, Chava's poignant attempts to bid her family farewell and, perhaps most heartbreaking of all, Hodel singing the lovely Far From the Home I Love, as she explains to Tevye her reasons for leaving to find the rebellious Perchik (Daryl Hurst).

There was good support in the smaller roles, particularly Russell Barrett as Tzeitel's disappointed suitor, Lazar Wolf, and Sam Murray as the garrulous matchmaker Yente, and it was great to see younger enthusiasts joining the more experienced members of Newbury Operatic Society.

The chorus surpassed themselves, both acting and musically, making the walls of the Corn Exchange reverberate with good, accurate singing. They used the dynamics to great effect, as evidenced in the joyous, contemplative wedding song Sunrise, Sunset, sung just before the Russians burst in and Anatevka's world was torn apart. It is this contrast between joy and sorrow that gives Fiddler its great attraction.

The show requires an excellent cast to succeed; director Christopher Rands chose well and what resulted was a superb production.