Review: Brentwood's Fiddler on the Roof hits all the right heights

Liam Laturnus is Tevye in the Brentwood College School production of Fiddler on the Roof. - Andrew Leong
Liam Laturnus is Tevye in the Brentwood College School production of Fiddler on the Roof.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Politics rules our lives.

Just ask poor Tevye the milkman.

Moscow's pogroms against Jews kick Tevye (Liam Laturnus), wife Golde (Kira Carroll), and their family and friends from their simple village of Anatevka.

Those are just some of Tevye's worries, wonderfully shared in Brentwood College's Saturday finale of Fiddler on the Roof.

Colossal choreography, marvellous music and convincing acting helped continue the private college's penchant for sparkling plays under director Edna Widenmaier.

Mazel tov, also, to music director Phil Newns and his pit orchestra, plus choreographer Lorraine Blake, for fueling this touching, aurally intelligent version of the Broadway classic played on James O'Leary's sturdy, two-story stage.

Effective lighting by Don Armitage illuminated ill winds that blew through the tiny 1905 village struggling with traditions in the face of changing times.

The college's cast of droll characters displayed how folks can go with the flow of political domination, or bravely fight the system.

That protest was personified in Nicholas Wilson's turn as Perchik the Kiev student, eventually jailed in Siberia for speaking out against meanies in Moscow.

Ironically, life imitated art Saturday as President Putin's Russian troops walked into the Ukraine.

That type of harsh reality foreshadowing the Russian Revolution sat just underneath Fiddler's joyous veneer of Jewish customs, and the peacefully productive lifestyle Tevye and this townsfolks wanted to continue.

Hints of brooding conflicts were embodied in the Russian Constable (teacher Rick Rodrigues) and his goon cops, forced to bully villagers from their homes within three days.

Those days were filled by budding love between Perchik and Tevye's daughter, Hodel (Emily Bradbury), Tevye's surreal dream to convince crusty Golde to let the two marry; plus wedding scenes, gossip, and mischief from Yente the matchmaker (Jocelyn Kraynyk).

That unforgettable dream scene, bewitching befuddled Golde, featured a gaggle of masked spirits haunting Tevye's bedroom.

Laturnus was terrific as Tevye tenderly reasoned with God to save his ill cow, and his village — stressing everyone's struggle against life's deck stacked by unseen forces.

Some viewers may believe Brentwood 's Fiddler may not have equalled Cowichan Musical Society's robust version some years back.

On the other hand, some may think the college's Phantom of the Opera, or Beauty and Beast bested this Fiddler.

But Saturday's show proved unmistakably great for hitting all the right notes, emotions and dance steps.

It'll be another tough act to follow next year.

Dramatic-musical play rating: 9.5 menorahs out of 10.

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