From the moment I heard Alex Honzen in the opening number of Light Opera Work's FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, I knew I was in for something special. This was no ordinary Tevye as I had seen played many times before by even the greats, Zero Mostel, Theodore Bikel, Herschel Bernardi, or even Topol. This Tevye had an operatic voice...and boy, could he deliver!
Whether you've seen the musical or the 1971 movie many times before, the dialog remains fresh, evoking both laughter and tears. And the music? From the opening moments of the high energy "Tradition" to "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" to the moving "Sabbath Prayer," to the finale closing of the somber "Anatevka," you'll be singing along, knowing every word. Conducted by Music Director Roger Bingaman, the production is accompanied by a full pit orchestra.
Alex Honzen brings humor and lightheartedness to his role as Tevye as well as the pipes. He's been a regular in Light Opera Works' productions as well as appeared in opera companies throughout Chicagoland. Not only is his voice stellar, something you don't expect from Tevye the dairyman, but he brings a unique understanding to the character, a man who's simple, endearing and whose faith cannot be broken, even as the world around him is changing. And he doesn't miss a "biddi, biddi, bum."
Light Opera Works' Artistic Director Rudy Hogenmiller also steps in the production as Stage Director and Choreographer with fresh, new dance moves, all while maintaining much of the traditional Jerome Robbins choreography. The bottle dance remains as wonderful ever.
Jenny Lamb as wife, Golde, returns to Light Opera Works after playing in DAMN YANKEES and CABARET. She has a beautiful voice and maintains her stance as the true head of the household. Yael Wartens returns to Light Opera Works as Tzeitel playing Tevye's oldest with innocence, charm and sweetness of voice. And Ryan Naimy as the ever present fiddler plays with passion and purpose, accompanying Tevye on his journey to America.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF burst onto the Broadway scene in 1964, now marking its 50th anniversary. It won nine Tony Awards. including Best Musical and Best Actor for Zero Mostel. Look for a new Broadway revival for the fall of 2015.
There are only a few more performances left. Bring your children, your parents, your friends to this timeless musical. According to my theater companion, "It never gets old."
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is playing at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street in Evanston through August 24. Suitable for ages 10 and up. For tickets, call 847-920-5360 or visit www.lightoperaworks.com
Next up for Light Opera Works is Cole Porter's Greatest Hits, running from October 3 - 12 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston.