Theater Review: Fiddler on the Roof plays April 13 at Coronado

Of the shows currently playing on Broadway, nearly one-half are revivals. The “Broadway in Rockford” series reflects this trend. Of the six shows, four had played here when RELI (Rockford Entertainment League Inc.) booked touring companies at the Coronado before its renovation. During the 1992 season, Fiddler on the Roof with its star, John Preece, pleased local audiences. Preece was voted “Best Actor of the Season.”

Fiddler, with Harvey Fierstein in the lead, garnered a Tony for Best Revival and continues to draw appreciative audiences in New York. In an interview with John Preece, who plays the lead in the April 13 production, he informed me that he only plays in Fiddler and has done more than 2,600 performances. At one point, he understudied Theodore Bikel and has continued to tour all over the country.

His early education in theater in Georgia led him to Southern Illinois University, where he obtained his graduate degree. After spending some time in New York, he worked in the restaurant business during the ’80s, but after finding his niche in Fiddler, continues to tour regularly.

Especially pleased with this production, he said, “The director, Sammy Dallas Bayes, worked with Jerome Robbins in the original play starring Zero Mostel. The staging and choreography are authentic, while the costumes have been created by a woman who also worked with Robbins’ costumer.”

Preece’s ability to become part of the cast makes him a highly desirable actor, so he is seldom without work. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and returns there whenever possible. As many in theater find, sacrifices are necessary to continue one’s craft, but as friend Julian says, “You can succeed if you have great endurance and fortitude.”

After 40 years, Fiddler on the Roof brings music, drama and a tender story to the stage. For tickets to the April 13 performance, call (815) 968-5222. I may see you there.

Etc. …

Also opening April 13 at Guilford High School is Jesus Christ Superstar. These dedicated students did not spend their spring vacation on the beach. Every day from 9 to 5, rehearsals took place, sets were constructed, and the lyrics and music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice filled the auditorium. A challenge is being met.

Spamalot update

The Sunday, March 27 New York Times contained three full page ads for the musical of the year, the first in Finnish from the Helsinki Times—you had to be there. The New Yorker also ran a review unparalleled in its positive commentary. John Lahr in the March 28, 2005, issue, referring to Director Mike Nichols, says: “As the leader of this jester’s jamboree, he is all cunning and control. At the show’s last beat, he lets confetti rain down like blessings upon us. Comic endeavor is not an easy one, and we should not receive it lightly. The vulgarity, the noise, the glorious, gossamer folderol are all a bold and fierce declaration of life.”

Those who saw Spamalot in its early stages in Chicago have saved themselves an expensive weekend in New York.

From the April 6-12, 2005, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!