We live in shaky times, traditional values are taking a long questioning, dreams are being re-evaluated and in a sense people feel a lot more uncertain.  Some people blame others for their predicament, whether life has sold them a horse or a mule!  Carrick-On-Suir Musical Society brought a lot of those questions to their wonderful life-affirming production of Fiddler On The Roof.  Here was a community feeling the harsh winds of finance and political thoughtfulness – their new theatre still a source of hope and faith in the future – but its debts, that seemed well manageable five years ago, now a more uncertain burden.  But they have tempered the comfort of traditional values, accepted change and as a community – a marvellous musical community – decided to go on.
Liam Butler’s production caught all the conflicting and confusing elements of upheaval in a small Russian town – Anatevka and he had a real fiddle-playing Fiddler (the talented Rebecca McCarthy Kent) and she was an observer up there on the roof for almost the whole show. What a wonderful image.
In this production, the mostly community cast sang their hearts out for the glorious opening Tradition, to the spiritual and comforting Sabbath Prayer to the wild celebration of life L’Chaim.  There was the excellent ritual of a beautiful Sunrise Sunset, a Wedding Dance and a heart-breaking parting of leaving Anatevka.  There were also songs of Matchmaker dreams of If I Were A Rich Man (I heard this song in this production as if I had never heard it before, thanks to a wonderful Tevya by Garry Montaine).  There were life-affirming songs like Miracle Of Miracles, Now I Have Everything and Do You Love Me?
This was an austere production in many ways but it was filled with a musical and a human richness, with an excellent cast, creating a thoughtful but deeply enriching experience where I felt such a surge and range of emotions.  Fergal Carroll touched a deep core with his orchestra and musical direction.  Catriona O’Dwyer delivered a chorus experience, a vocal transformation and Mary McDonagh as Choreographer danced her community into our hearts.  Mike O’Hara and Padraig Sheehan gave it all shape, hope and quality.  Gerry Taylor lit it with traditional colours linked by modern ability and technology.  Nomac and the company dressed the huge cast with appropriate style.  John O’Donoghue’s set design was simple and effective.
Garry Mountaine was an excellent chuckling Tevye, who sang and spoke to God and the audience, like it was eavesdropping and he brought a rich set of moods to the stage.  Irene Malone was a sharp and severe Golde, with a poor make-up job but vocally she underpinned so much of the ritual mother/matriarch.
Ray Nolan was well suited and fitted the role of Motel, like a triple stitch.  Helen Hahessy was a shawl-less Yente who seemed too young but her Anatevka moments were fine.  Seamus Power was impressive as Lazer Wolf, the Butcher and Richie Nugent, the real butcher, sang a glorious Russian Soldier.
Sandra Power just blew me away with the depth and excellence of her Tzeitel.  What a performer.  Triona O’Callaghan was a quality Handel and Louise Mulcahy was a sensitive Chava.
Eamonn O’Neill was masterful as Perchik and Aiden Connelly, as Fredka, reminded me of the depth of young talent this society has.  Noel Treacy was a fine Priest and supportive villager and John Stuart filled several roles with confidence.
Michael Power was a commanding Constable and Dick Meany was memorable as a Rabbi who was essential to the story and the community and a cornerstone for its future.  There must be a special blessing for such stalwarts.  J. P. Burke was a fine Mendel.
Despite the gloom and doom and the rain, I came away from this production a little sad and emotional, because it had touched my heart and my own hopes.  It had allowed me to know my fears but I was reassured by the strength and depth of a society, a small community who knew how to renew me and themselves.
I hope AIMS have a blessing for them.