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Ed Flesch’s last Fiddler at the Fireside

July 1, 1993

Ed Flesch first played Tevye 30 years ago, and the current production at The Fireside is his farewell performance of that memorable role. Fiddler on the Roof is a significant part of his own heritage. In his notes he writes, “… like many of the characters in this play, a young Jewish couple named Chaim and Etzie Lubin come to this country from Ukraine in Tsarist Russia… they worked, raised a family… the youngest of their three daughters was my mother. That is why Fiddler on the Roof has always been so special to me.”

Opening a few days before Passover gave the play even more meaning. In my review of Flesch’s production in 1997, I said… “Fiddler on the Roof is a delightful piece of entertainment and a tribute to the courage and faith of the Jewish people.” Every detail is superbly done.

Flesch’s maturity gives Tevye complete credibility, and his fine voice has not lost the booming quality that is so much a part of his character’s image. In directing the production, he has assembled an outstanding cast. Eileen Tepper is Golde, his wife, and Molly Mohoney (Tzeitel), Danielle Vetro (Hodel) and Lindsey (Chava), his strong-willed daughters center his life. “Tradition” opens the show and gives us a sense of Tevye’s coming dilemma. In a changing world, the Papa no longer rules. The next generation wants the freedom to make their own life decisions.

Hundreds of musicals have been created since Fiddler was originally staged. Many completely forgettable. We need to return 30 years to find the lyrics and music that we keep in our memories. We wake up in the morning humming the tunes and recalling every word. Fiddler still gives us this.

At the Fireside, the audience surrounds the stage and becomes an integral part of the play. Emotions intensify when we have that experience. The simple set requires some imagination, but the music and lyrics give the reality.

Congratulations to Ed Flesch on his finest performance. May his creativity be an inspiration to us all. Running through May 27, this is a show you must see. A pleasant drive, wonderful food, and an accommodating staff will give you a theater experience to remember. For tickets, call (800) 477-9505.

Briefly…

Contemplating Massacre (Sing to Your Children) by Jose Rivera, currently at the Goodman, my mind remains in a state of confusion. Opening with a bloody massacre of an unseen villain, the players enter a country home in New Hampshire covered in gore. The entire play focuses on the sins committed against the nine murderers. How they came to be living in this particular community is never clarified, and a flashback at the end of the play only does little to explain the premise.

In an interview, Rivera says, “I felt that following 9/11, it was necessary for me to channel the disgust and anger and sorrow I felt as we launched another unnecessary war on a distant people too feeble and poor to strike back.”

The relevance of Massacre may be trying to solve its mystery.

from the April 18-24, 2007, issue

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