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May 25, 2012 | 12:39 p.m. CST
The lights come up on a single character: a fiddler in the loft of the barn stage. While the instrument is played so softly it can barely be heard over the rest of the orchestra, the main character, Tevye, enters the scene from the center of the audience.
The set is well made, clearly displaying the different locales of Anatevka, a Russian town, on the stage. During several scenes, characters stand on the lawn by audience members because the outdoor setting allows the actors to move around freely, as if they were navigating a real village.
This interactivity comes at a price, though. The music is well amplified, but sometimes the actors’ voices aren’t. As soon as a character leaves the microphone-lined stage to wander through the audience, it becomes very difficult to hear him or her.
Despite the audio challenges, the production receives laughter and applause. Between the music and humor, the actors portray their characters with the utmost devotion in every staggering walk and Russian accent used. Together, the cast creates the show’s tone: excitement for diversity and acceptance, followed by despair. Only a few lines are stumbled over during the two-and-a-half-hour-long performance.
Standing out among the cast of 34 is Bill Farfan, who plays Tevye. Farfan brings fitting wit and sarcasm to each line and song. The amount of energy and enthusiasm he puts into his songs keeps the audience’s attention as he drifts through the crowd. During the curtain call, Farfan received a well-deserved cheer and applause from the audience.
The music is right on key, unlike some of the actors’ singing voices. The lead actors are able to belt out their songs, but there are supporting actors that fall flat. However, as a whole the company complements one another to provide a strong vocal performance.
The changes in lighting could be harsh on the eyes at times – in one scene there is no lighting at all and in others the stage is fully lit. Despite this, the lights provide the right mood for each scene. The dancing, though sometimes lacking, provides plenty of entertainment and smiles during the whole show.
After the final curtain, audience members show their approval of the company’s opening of their 40th season by congratulating and mingling with the cast.