Welk Theater Review: ‘Fiddler on the Roof’

Not fiddling around on that Welk roof.

It’s almost a waste to time to review “Fiddler On The Roof,” because I’ve never seen a bad production of it. How can you go wrong with story inspired by Sholem Aleichem, a book by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock’s unforgettable music and Sheldon Harnick’s wonderful lyrics?

You can’t, and Welk Resorts Theatre is proving that once again with a lovely production headed by Rudy Martinez and Wendy Waddell as Tevye and Golde.

You know the story about the Russian Jews in the little village of Anatevka who coexist with the czar’s soldiers without incident until the czar orders them to leave Russia. It’s here that Tevye the milkman plies his wares, talks to God and tries to maintain “Tradition.”

That tradition dictates he find husbands for his five daughters, so he makes a match with the matchmaker’s choice: village butcher Lazar Wolf (Scott Ramp) for Tzeitel, the eldest.

But Tzeitel (the lovely Kelly Derouin) has her eye on Motel the tailor (Ben Williams) – in fact, they have secretly become engaged because “even a poor tailor deserves some happiness.”

“Unheard of!” thunders Tevye. But what’s a father to do when his kids tell him “it’s a new world?”

Tzeitel is just the tip of the “new world” iceberg, and in time the second and third born daughters also pick untraditional mates, leaving Tevye to catch up with the march of history and changes in social customs.

Martinez has a beautiful voice, and he and Waddell have great chemistry as Tevye and Golde. Waddell also has an arsenal of facial expressions that need no words; she is a joy to watch.

All three of the daughters – Derouin, Elledge, Hodson – are lovely singers and actors as well. The same can be said for their soon-to-be spouses – Williams’ Motel, Jacob Hoff’s Perchik (the troublemaker from Kiev) and Drew Grant’s Cossack Fyedka.

I could cavil about the fact that the only actor who even attempts an accent is Susan E.V. Boland as Yente, or that this production is not as visually spectacular as some (the sets are basic and conductor Justin Gray gets by with only three other musicians), or that some of the men’s pants look too modern for the time period. But why bother?

It’s the humanity of this show that always shines through, expressed in a fine script and beautiful songs, and director Kathy Brombacher has assembled a fine singing and dancing cast to portray the joys and sorrows of life in Anatevka.

The cast is excellent, the choreography (reproduced from the original by Orlando Alexander) lively, the lighting and sound (by Jennifer Edwards and Patrick Hoyny, respectively) fine. This show is a winner.

Traditions may be superseded, but the importance of family remains, and “Fiddler On The Roof” reminds us why.

The details

“Fiddler On The Roof” plays through April 24, 2016 at Welk Resort Theatre San Diego, 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive in Escondido.

Thursday and Saturday at 1 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 pm

Tickets: (888) 802-7469 or http://welkresorts.com.

Jean Lowerison is SDGLN theater critic. By agreement, The Grapevine publishes her r reviews of regional productions. For more, visit http://bit.ly/1QW7gnw.

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