WMS Stage Exquisite “Fiddler on the Roof”

Liam Murphy Reports

Theatre Royal audiences were last week treated to the expected, big, warm-hearted choruses in Waterford Musical Society’s exquisite production of ‘Fiddler On The Roof’.
There was an epic sweep to the show as ‘Tradition’, the beautiful ‘Sabbath Prayer’, the glorious shout to life and survival of ‘L’Chaim’ and a ‘Sunrise Sunset’ to rekindle memories of weddings and family occasions. Some came to remember the good times of the Light Opera Festival and that was beautifully evident in and around the theatre.
Bill Stafford directed with appreciated attention to the ultimately hopeful aspects of the story – the survival of people. Of families trying to adjust to changes and still have faith in human destiny.

The cast of Waterford Musical Society's 'Fiddler On The Roof', which performed to delighted audiences at the Theatre Royal between Wednesday and Saturday last. 			 							| Photos: Colin Shanahan/DigiCol

The cast of Waterford Musical Society's 'Fiddler On The Roof', which performed to delighted audiences at the Theatre Royal between Wednesday and Saturday last. | Photos: Colin Shanahan/DigiCol


There was also the implied metaphor of how a community needs the sharing and continuity of a musical heritage that is still as precarious as a ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.
Ben Hennessy’s fine set established the earthy tones and the costumes designed by Avril Musgrave and supplied by Nomac and Newry continued those tones.
Musical direction from Wayne Brown excelled with a wonderful pit that had an accordion, a mandolin, Geri Dunne on Cello and Alex Gough on percussion.
The delight of live music in a musical added much to a cast and crew who created the ritual, the pace of life, the coping with adversity.
Ella Foley was Shprintze and Aoife Wall was Bielke, the youngest children of Tevye the Milkman (Ray Collins).
Brian Hogan (Innkeeper), Niall Kelly (Mendel), Jonathan Kelly (Bookseller), Ben Nolan (Russian Soloist) and Mary-Rose Kiely (as the gossipy spirit of Anatevka) added to the sense of village life. Nataylia O’Neill was the elusive Fiddler on the Roof.

Trish Orpen was wonderful as Yente The Matchmaker and she brought humour as did Tevye in his monologues to God and the audience. Paula Weldon was fearsome as Fruma Sarah and Avril Hartrey brought a feisty Grandma Tzeitel back from the grave.
As Tevye, Ray Collins was splendid and sang and acted with cunning, aplomb, and a deep love for the character and he lifted the show up on his shoulders and carried it into memory. His ‘If I Were A Rich Man’ was glorious and when he was frustrated you felt that annoyance. You felt torn by the decisions he had to make and you wanted to share his burden and walk into the future with him.
He inhabited and embodied the confusion of going on, and having hope in ‘tomorrow’. Greta Rochford shone as Golda and her duet with Tevye, ‘Do You Love Me’, was a high point of reflection. Neill Bourke was excellent as the angry butcher, Lazar Wolf, as was Paul Dillon as the doddering Rabbi.
Dermot Sullivan brought authority and humanity to the role of the Constable. Brian Tuohy was splendid as the hesitant tailor, Motel, and his ‘Miracle of Miracles’ was such a luminous joy.

Ray Collins was splendid as Tevye, a role he was born to play.

Ray Collins was splendid as Tevye, a role he was born to play.


Adam O’Neill portrayed the revolutionary spirit of the student, Perchik, and Jack Cunningham was good as the conflicted Fyedka who represented another aspect of change and adjustment. He also danced like a dream. The inspirational choreography of Margaret Kavanagh was another wonderful aspect of this production.
Three daughters were the central heartbeat of this musical. They embodied hope, expectation, love, and sacrifice and each walked forth and the audience walked with them, hand in hand, hope in heart. Jennifer White (Tzeitel) smiled and the audience took her to their heart.
Niamh Fennessy stepped forward to dance and again the audience danced in their heart with her.
Emma Walsh (Chava) rebelled and broke the traditional bonds and the audience wished her well. So much emotion was invested in ‘Matchmaker’, ‘Now I Have Everything’ and ‘Far From The Home I Love’, and a family dance sequence – the Chava Sequence – was such a joy in a show that restored joy and heartfelt feelings.

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