Fiddler on the Roof – Harvey Fierstein Reviewed

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Harvey Fierstein Fiddler on the Roof

Harvey Fierstein Fiddler on the Roof

This weekend I got to take my mom to not only see a classic show Fiddler on the Roof, but I also got to go with her when one of Broadway’s most beloved Actors, Harvey Fierstein.

Not only are we both huge Harvey Fierstein fans, but getting to see him with my Mom and in a role that almost seems like it was designed for him, Tevye, just like when he played Edna Turnblad in Broadway’s Hairspray, the performance has to be amazing.   In this review I want to go over what makes an Actor like Harvey Fierstein so amazing and then review the show.

Harvey Fierstein is one of the most influential people in Broadway.  Not only has he created a career for himself and turned his extremely unique voice into one of his most sought after traits, but he brought gay people into the main stream on Broadway, besides in Cabaret when the guys admits he is bi or in Victor Victoria where they clearly love and accept gay people in France, with his shows like La Cage Au Follies or Torch Song Trilogy.  He pushes boundaries and fights for his beliefs, but he also does it in a way that is classy, comical and a way that attracts huge audiences.  Not only is he able to create a venue that gets a message across, but he does it in a way that is extremely thought provoking and not as in your face.  With that said, how does this relate to his career?

Harvey Fierstein is able to not only write in a way that main stream audiences will fall in love with it and he can get away with creating shows that are not normal or sometimes controversial, but he can also tie that into his body language, facial expressions and character development.  Not only can you see his eyes from everywhere in the theatre (or at least visualize them) but he is somehow able not only break character to give a shimmy or just before a well known song step out of the cast and point his finger to let the crowd know it is about to start and then come back into place seamlessly, but he can also carry the entire cast if he needs to.

People like Harvey Fierstein, Carol Channing, Barbara Streisand and others that have unique voices find ways to make their emotions speak and hit everyone in a crowd.  It is almost like you are watching their characters in their stories as if you were really there and somehow their presence is large enough that you almost feel what their character would be feeling.  If an Actor can do that and in real life, jump out of their character in a second and then all of the sudden be right back in line and get your emotions going crazy again, that is what makes them a star and what separates Broadway stars from Movie and TV Stars.  They have to be able to act, sing, dance and be able to improvise and remember hours of lines and be able to act along side different people every night and at the blink of an eye.  This is what makes theatre unique and people like Harvey Fierstein household names that everyone can fall in love with.

Fiddler on the Roof Washington DC National Theatre

Fiddler on the Roof Washington DC National Theatre

Fiddler on the Roof reviewed.

So anyways, the purpose of this post was to talk about Fiddler on the Roof.

Fiddler on the Roof is the story of a small and poor Jewish Village in Anatevka Russia.  It is the story of a Milkman names Tevye, his wife Goldie, his 5 daughters and how even though they are poor they can still be rich with love. Love is a reoccurring theme in the show.

Tevye is in love with God and his Traditions, not to mention his wife who has never said she loved him in the 25 years they were married or with Yenta who is the town Match Maker that chooses love for everyone else, even if they aren’t in love or don’t want love.  Tevye’s daughters who discover love and even though it is against tradition marry the Men they fall in love with and find a way to convince Tevye that it is ok to love people that they for themselves, instead of benefiting their families.  Love is the basis for Fiddler on the Roof.

Loving your family, loving God, loving your neighbors, your Country, your possessions, your enemies (if your daughter marries them) and everything else.  Without love then the characters in Fiddler on the Roof would be poor in food, posessions, heart and soul.  It is their love that keeps their faith, keeps them together and keeps them alive.  Love for reading and learning. love for change and love for each other.

The story line of Fiddler on the Roof is great and tragic.  It is emotional and shows the plight of the Jews in Russia when they were forced out of their homes and beaten for their religion.  It has some of the most well known songs in theatre including Match Maker, Sunrise Sunset and If I Were a Rich Man which has been done over and over again by everyone from Pop Stars like Gwen Stefani to TV Shows.  The only things missing from this show are songs were people belt out a tune and hit a high note.  Unfortunately this show lacks that and even though the characters are very memorable, the DC and touring cast, except for Harvey Fierstein were very weak.

It is very rare that you leave a show and not love multiple characters.  The only person in the show everyone talked about was Harvey Fierstein.  Everyone else was somewhat talented but none of them stood out.  None of them was absolutely amazing and none of them were holy crap incredible.  Overall the shows music is great, but no show stopper songs, the characters are extremely well written, but this cast was poorly acted and the story line is classic.  Unfortunately since the cast I saw was extremely weak, except for Harvey Fierstein, I have to give Fiddler on the Roof 2 out of 5 stars.  If you are a Harvey Fierstein fan then it is worth going.  If you have never seen a show before it is somewhat worth going, but if you are a theatre fan and love to see a great show with a ton of amazing talent, this is not one for you to spend your money on.  Harvey Fierstein is amazing but if he wasn’t in the cast I would have given the show an even lower rating.

I love the show but would have loved a better cast.  I am being a little harsh and should give it a 3 out of 5 stars, but for some reason I just didn’t love the show when I saw it.  Maybe it was just an off day because the talent was there, but then again they should all be able to give it their all, Harvey was able to so it would have been nice to have seen them all give a performance like his.