Few musicals have had the universal appeal and undiminished popularity of “Fiddler on the Roof,” based on stories written by famed Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem.
And this summer, it is being given a full-voiced and deeply affecting rendition at the Theater at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston.
The show’s central character, a hard-working Jewish dairyman named Tevye, finds himself at several crossroads, at times having to choose between love for his family and devotion to his faith.
Throughout, Tevye often speaks directly to God — one-way conversations that provide several of the show’s dramatic and comic highlights. It is in these moments that Andrew Joseph Koslosky, in the leading role, shines most brightly.
And while “Fiddler” offers a Jewish look at the ways of the world, much of its appeal rests in the way it touches upon many of the tribulations of life that face all of us, regardless of our backgrounds.
The ICC production throws typecasting to the wind and while the multiethnic, multigenerational cast are a talented lot, they do not easily call to mind the Broadway and film performers who preceded them in their respective roles.
Purists might try to resist, but even they are likely to find themselves falling for the charms of nearly everyone on stage. And, at several touching moments in the proceedings, more than a single sniffle could be heard emanating from the audience.
This is a story with the power to touch everyone and it’s unlikely anyone will be disappointed by the current rendering.
Koslosky, who also co-directed the production with Kevin Wallace, is best-known for his beautiful tenor voice. Here he successfully adapts it to fit his character’s needs. He makes one of the show’s best-known songs, “If I Were a Rich Man,” his own.
Community theater veteran Monica Barczak might not be the first name to come to mind for the role of Tevye’s long-suffering wife, Golde, but her skills as actress and singer are in evidence once again, lending an unusual lilt to such classic songs as “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Sabbath Prayer.”
In an even more unusual casting turn, three real-life sisters play the three eldest of Tevye’s five daughters. Rachael Connolly is Tzeitel, Joanna Connolly is Hodel, and Shannon Connolly is Chava. All three are in fine voice, with Hodel’s heart-wrenching “Far from the Home I Love” proving a real tear-jerker.
Despite penciled-in wrinkles and a stooped posture, Kiera Liantonio is simply too young for the role of the town’s matchmaker, Yente. Daniel Segredo makes for an introspective Perchik, the young radical who woos Hodel.
Wallace, who also served as choreographer, has staged the musical numbers splendidly. Particularly memorable are the opening, the show’s famed Bottle Dance, “To Life,” and Tevye’s dream sequence, which is marred only by touches of unwarranted slapstick.
The orchestra, under musical director Patrick White, is exemplary. The sets designed by Matthew Leabo are appropriate and the smooth transitions between scenes keep the action moving with hardly an interruption.