Fiddler on the Roof On Stage at Roger Rocka’s

Mar 20, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Terrance V. Mc Arthur, Theatre

by Terrance Mc Arthur


That means it’s time for that audience-favorite musical, Fiddler on the Roof, to take over the Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater stage again in a Good Company Players production starring Dan Pessano as Tevye, playing through May 12.

It’s a play about tradition, a play about family, and a play about change. Tevye (Dan Pessano), a Jewish milkman from the village of Anatevka in Imperial Russia, has five daughters, tries to balance living by the rules of his people and the rulers of the Empire, and talks to God as if He is his neighbor. Three of the daughters exemplify the changing world he finds hard to accept. Tzeitel (Haleigh Cook) wants to marry a poor tailor (Michael Fidalgo). Hodel (Emily Pessano) loves a radical agitator (Peter Hartley) who wants to change a world that doesn’t desire change. Chava (Madeline Wristen) falls for a Russian (Ethan Marsh) not of their faith.

Cast of GCP’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof”

Dan knows the part of Tevye—this is his eighth production of Fiddler in the role. He doesn’t dance as much as he used to, but the power, the humor, and the humanity are still there. He can throw away a line in a way that makes it more meaningful. His agony over decisions that challenge his traditions is heart-wrenching. His joy in being alive in front of an audience is palpable, and his beard is real.

As Tevye’s long-suffering wife, Golde, Leigh Ratliff returns to GCP in triumph. The mother/leader of the Rogue Festival musical-regular The Murray Girls, Ratliff puts dignity into her frustration with that man, tenderness into her sorrows, and willingness to believe—even when Tevye manufactures a story that turns into a production number.

Cast of GCP’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof”

Cook, who wise-cracked her way through the recent GCP Beautiful as Cynthia Weill, uses different skills as the lively oldest daughter. Her rebuttal of her sisters’ starry optimism in “Matchmaker” is a highlight. Fidalgo romps his way through “Miracle of Miracles,” and his journey from timidity to confidence is a pleasure to watch.

Emily Pessano is spunky and loyal as the daughter willing to go “Far From the Home I Love” to be with her man. There is intelligence and love in every word she says. Hartley’s Perchik is strong and idealistic, with a winning kindness that elevates his portrayal.

Wristen has shed the Lina Lamont screech she used in Singin’ In the Rain for a shy tone, and her pleading with a father who will not bend his standards to approve of her marriage can melt a stone-cold heart. Marsh’s gentle persistence wins over Chava and the audience.

Cast of GCP’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof”

Camille Gaston brings her wry humor and timing to Yente the Matchmaker; as always, she is a joy to watch what she does with a role. Henry Montelongo bounces from A Christmas Carol’s Ebenezer Scrooge to the character of Lazar Wolf, the older man who wants to marry Tzeitel; he shows a different kind of bluster. Roger Christensen leavens the Russian constable’s warnings of trouble for the Jewish community with a prickly friendship towards Tevye, but there is still a menace when he speaks. John Sloas as the Rabbi is older, wiser, and a full-time peacemaker.

Cast of GCP’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof”

Laurie Pessano directed and choreographed, and I saw some moves I haven’t seen here, before. This warhorse of a musical runs smoothly under her leadership. David Pierce’s set looks ramshackle, like a good wind could blow down the whole village, but it is sturdy in all its unfoldings and closings. Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed’s costumes capture the culture and the era, but it’s what you expect from her work. Judith Dickison’s touch as vocal director shines in the ebb and flow of sound in “Sabbath Prayer” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”

Cast of GCP’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof”

There are little touches that make this production a special experience, like the flickering lights in the windows on the set, reminiscent of going through Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It’s enchanting.

The Junior Company preshow salutes musical instruments with songs that range from “Do the Conga” to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Why not?

There are good reasons the 1964 Broadway production of Fiddler‘s Bock-Harnick-Stein collaboration became the first musical to break the 3,000-performance barrier. See this show, and you’ll find some more.

Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater is at 1226 N. Wishon Ave. at Olive Ave. For tickets and further information, go to, or call (559) 266-9494.

If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and also on podbean.

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. You can also find more theatre coming up on KRL’s Local Theatre event page.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur worked for the Fresno County Public Library for three decades. He is retired, but not retiring. A storyteller, puppeteer, writer, actor, magician, basketmaker, and all-around interesting person, his goal is to make life more unusual for everyone he meets.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the informative review!


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