|Sharon Gibson & Fred Helsel (c) Jon Neftali|
Leading the cast, Fred Helsel (doubling up as a show producer) donned Tevye's prayer tassels for the third time (having previously performed at the SVCAC in 2004 & 2006). He was joined by additional third time returning cast members, Kathleen Silverman (Yente) and Seth Kamenow (Motel). They were joined by a large supporting cast that filled the SVCAC stage to capacity and whose voices filled the auditorium with beautiful harmonies on company numbers such as Tradition, Tradition, Sabbath Prayer and Sunrise, Sunset.
|Katie Hume, Madeline Fanton, Jen Ridgway (L-R) (c) Jon Neftali|
|Fred Helsel (c) Jon Neftali|
When it comes to the acting -- while the lead cast all were delightful actors, each in their own right -- I had to keep reminding myself that this is classic community theatre where everyone comes together with a mutual love for theatre and the show. Some performers such as Ken Brookes (Lazar Wolfe) hadn't acted in a good long time, according to their bios, so it really shouldn't come as too much of a surprise when his talking voice is somewhat wooden but his singing voice strong. The absolute weakest performer had to be Eric Lin as Sasha. Yep that is right -- an Asian Russian. Heck, I wanted to like him for the very fact that it was a colorblind casting choice. Unfortunately, I could not get past his lackluster and uninspiring performance. Truthfully though it was a very good cast with beautiful harmonies and company numbers were huge hits with the audience.
Kuddos to the Design Team:
Director/Producer David Ralphe made use of the entire stage space and brought out some heartwarming performances from his cast, Becky Castells' choreography of Matchmaker, Matchmaker and the Bottle Dance were charming, musical director Maize Wilson led a talented orchestra whose music filled the auditorium without overpowering the singers on stage, Seth Kamenow's simplistic yet beautiful sets (especially the mosaic-type doors/walls) perfectly helped we the audience imagine ourselves in Anatevka, and I appreciated costume designer Lori Lee Gordon's attention to detail by even outfitting the orchestra with hats for the men and scarves for the women -- I just wish Fruma Sarah's gown was longer to avoid the eye focusing on her (spoiler).
Fiddler on the Roof truly is an entertaining, family-friendly show that will provide everyone with a good night's out at the theatre. At the end of the day, it is the strong singing and beautiful harmonies that I am left remembering and not the few weaknesses. And like I said, I really think that by the time the cast has several performances under their belts, they will be much better. That is one of the joys of seeing community theatre on opening night - the rawness. :)
September 12 – October 18, 2015
Dates: Friday & Saturday at 8:00 pm, Sunday at 2:00 pm (Thursday, October 8 & 15 at 8:00 pm)
Location: Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave, Simi Valley, California
Tickets: $24 Adults, $20 Seniors & Students and $18 Children
Box Office: (805) 583-7900
Parking: PLEASE NOTE - THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH PLACES FOR PARKING IN THE LOT!!!! AMPLE STREET PARKING (FREE) IS AVAILABLE BUT WILL REQUIRE EXTRA TIME WALKING TO THE THEATRE. PLAN ACCORDINGLY!!
Disclaimer: I was given my tickets for review purposes but all opinions are my own. I hope they have been helpful!