.Tradition: ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at 6th Street

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I have a soft spot for Fiddler on the Roof. The 1971 film adaptation was the first movie musical I saw, and I made my musical stage debut nine years later in a high school production.

Thoughts of those experiences were dancing in my head when I attended a recent performance of the Broadway classic at Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse. The production runs through Oct. 8.

Change is coming to the village of Anatevka. It’s an unsettling time to be Jewish in czarist Russia, so much so that local dairyman Tevye (Steven Kent Barker) compares it to being a fiddler on the roof—trying to maintain one’s balance in a precarious position.

Tevye and his wife, Golde (Ginger Beavers), have five daughters, three of whom are of marrying age. Local matchmaker Yente (Laura Davies) connects oldest daughter Tzeitel (Ella Park) with widowed butcher Lazar Wolf (Dwayne Stincelli), but she’s committed to childhood friend Motel (Jeff Coté).

As soon as Tevye brings resolution to that situation, daughters Hodel (Megan Bartlett) and Chava (Lydia Louviere) have beaus of their own. Perchik (Daniel Silva) is a dissident, while Fyedka (Michael Hunter) is a gentile.

Traditions come crashing down while Russian soldiers come crashing through Anatevka.

Change came to this show in mid-production and it shows. Director Joe Gellura stepped in after the departure of Jared Sakren, and casting was a challenge (partially because of the number of shows simultaneously in production, but that’s a whole other discussion).

On the one hand, veteran performers like Beavers, Davies and Stincelli give their all. On the other hand, Barker, who has given strong performances on larger stages, seemed tired and small in the role.

On the one hand, there are a lot of younger, talented performers in the show. On the other hand, many were asked to play town elders.

On the one hand, the classic score (“If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset”) is well delivered by the eight-piece orchestra led by Les Pfützenreuter, and the cast’s vocal work is good. On the other hand, the choreography lacked the talent and precision necessary to really carry it off.

On the one hand, there’s a nice minimalist set by Jenny Brazell enhanced with good projection design by Ben Roots. On the other hand, sound issues continue to plague the playhouse.

On the one hand, I had high hopes after the superb violin work done by Henry Miller in the opening.

On the other hand…

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ runs through Oct. 8 in the GK Hardt Theatre at 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa. Fri.-Sat., 7:30pm; Sun, 2pm. $28–$48. 707.523.4185. 6thstreeetplayhouse.com.

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