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Fiddler on the Roof Presented by CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre

IN THE July 18 ISSUE

FROM THE 2017 Articles,
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by Terrance Mc Arthur

It all started with Solomon Naumovich Rabinowich (1859-1916), who wrote as Sholem Aleichem, a Yiddish phrase meaning “Peace be unto you.” He was known as “the Jewish Mark Twain,” but Mark Twain claimed to be “the American Sholem Aleichem.” Some of his stories were about a Russian Jewish milkman named Tevye, who had five daughters. In 1964, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick wrote songs for a script by Joseph Stein, and Fiddler on the Roof became a Broadway hit and a staple of community theatres. CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre presents it at the Mercedes Edwards Theater through July 22.

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Tevye (Darren Tharp)

Tevye (Darren Tharp) believes in tradition, and plans to arrange marriages for his girls through the village matchmaker (Melanie Heyl). The young women have different plans. Tzeitel (Teanca Roussow) has pledged herself to Motel the Tailor (Michael Gil), while the matchmaker has made a contract with a butcher (Larry Mattox). Hodel (Emily Pofahl) meets a student revolutionary (Caleb Harbin). The bookish Chava (Mary Bouton) goes beyond Tevye’s willingness to bend by loving a Russian (Jeremy Salas).

Tharp is a cheerful chunk of a man. There is pride in “Tradition,” joy in “To Life,” hope for an escape from poverty in “If I Were a Rich Man.” There is a religious peace in “Sabbath Prayer,” and his work in “Do You Love Me?” with Jennifer Gotten as Golde, his wife, becomes a conversation between friends.

Gotten’s Golde is the foundation of the family, where everybody goes for the right answers, because Tevye would probably make up something. Her trained voice strives to go beyond the earthy framework of the character, but she maintains control.

Roussow is upbeat and perky as the oldest daughter. In “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” she mines the comedy as the mock-matchmaker, and spends most of “Wonder of Wonders” being adored by Gil, who is bubbly in a goofy, bumbling way, until his determination to get what he craves and deserves makes a man out of him.

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Cast of CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre’s production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

Pofahl has a strong Junior Company/GCP training that makes Hodel a person of determination and conviction. “Far From the Home I Love” carries wistfulness and a conviction that her course of action is the right one. As the studious Chava, Bouton is amazed at the attraction she feels for a Christian man, and crushed by Tevye’s rejection of her marriage.

Harbin shows a fervent zeal as the budding Bolshevik who admires Hodel’s mind and captures her heart. Salas has tender moments where he questions the anti-Semitism of his peers. Mattox is big and blustery as Lazar Wolf, the butcher; he’s always a good choice for a supporting character that needs a forceful quality.theatre

Heyl slides her way as a New-York-sounding Yenta, wisecracking her way through every day. William Gotten blends Austin Pendleton and Jerry Lewis into the wannabe-wise son of the village rabbi. Mark Blackney cloaks his bigotry as the constable with a rampant mustache and a thick accent.

Scott Hancock’s direction is generally solid, with touches of “Oh, yeah!” Judith Dickison, as usual, does wonders with the vocal direction.

Fiddler is often performed, frequently parodied, and still holds up after 50+ years. It runs through July 22. Catch it while you can. Fiddler on the Roof plays in the Mercedes Edwards Theatre, 902 5th St. in Clovis. For tickets and more information go to www.centerstageclovis.com or call (559) 323-8744.

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Librarian with the Fresno County Public Library.

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