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Royal City Musical Theatre serves up a hit with Fiddler on the Roof

Mazel tov to Royal City Musical Theatre for once again knocking it out of the park with its spring production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Mazel tov to Royal City Musical Theatre for once again knocking it out of the park with its spring production of Fiddler on the Roof.

“Without traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof,” are words offered at the beginning of the show.

Changing traditions are a focal point of Fiddler on the Roof, set in the Russian town of Anatevka in 1905. The play centres around Tevye, a Jewish milkman and a father of five daughters, who struggles to adjust to the societal changes – such as having daughters who aren’t keen to follow the tradition of having a matchmaker choose their husbands or want to marry someone outside their faith.

Warren Kimmel is absolutely riveting as Tevye, demonstrating an impeccable comedic touch and a tenderness that allows the audience to empathize with him as he struggles to adapt to change of longstanding traditions. Even when he’s alone on the stage, as he is for If I Were a Rich Man, his presence fills Massey Theatre.

“What’s happening to the traditions?” Tevye laments early in the show.

Kimmel leads a stellar cast that includes Jennifer Poole as Tevye’s wife Golde. The two share a robust back-and-forth banter, but it’s their rendition of Do You Love Me? that tugs at the heartstrings.

Maia Hoile (Shprintze) and Arta Negahpan (Bielke) do a great job as Tevye’s youngest daughters, but Natasha Zacher (Tzeitel), Jenika Schofield (Hodel) and Julia Ullrich (Chava) shine as his three oldest daughters.

Sylvia Zaradic as Yente, the village matchmaker and gossip, Jonathan Bruce as Lazar Wolf, the butcher who set his sights on marrying

Tevye’s eldest daughter and Kerry O’Donovan as Motel, a tailor who wants to marry Tzeitel, are also standouts. Director and choreographer Valerie Easton has assembled a cohesive cast in which every performer in the ensemble contributes to a brilliant production.

Wonderful music (who can resist Matchmaker, If I Were a Rich Man, Sunrise, Sunset andFar From the Home I Love) under the direction of James Bryson, great choreography (I’m sure there’s a secret to the bottle-on-the-head in the Wedding Dance number), outstanding costumes by Christina Sinosich and set design by Brian Ball, and an impressive orchestra – what more could one want?

Royal City Musical Theatre’s productions attract theatre goers from near and far, with busloads bringing folks from across B.C., Alberta and Washington State. Based on Saturday night’s performance, it’s well worth the trip.

It’s often been said that Royal City Musical Theatre productions are “Broadway-quality productions at New Westminster prices” and that’s certainly the case with Fiddler on the Roof, the group’s 27th production, which was a joy from start to finish.

The company will put on Cole Porter’s Anything Goes next year.

At Saturday’s opening night performance, Easton told the crowd that the City of New Westminster had decided to take over and retain the existing 66-year-old Massey Theatre. Based on the ensuing applause, it would seem that Massey Theatre is one tradition that locals value and want retained.

Fiddler on the Roof runs at the Massey Theatre until April 23, with matinees on April 16,17 and 23 at 2 p.m. and evening shows on April 15, 16, 20, 21, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at 604-521-5050 and

Here’s what a few local folks had to say about Fiddler on the Roof after attending the opening night of Royal City Musical Theatre’s latest production:

“Hats off to Royal City Musical Theatre – they did it again with their current production of Fiddler on the Roof and with great theatrical flair. Once again, this extremely capable local company has triumphed with its current presentation of one of Broadway’s most iconic shows, Fiddler on the Roof. Royal City Musical Theatre uses a full orchestra. To me that makes the wonderful songs and all those lovely melodies just jump right out of the pit.”– Tony Antonias, local arts promoter.

“I thought it was outstanding. I would have stayed and watched it all over again.” – Stephanie Erdelyi, executive director of Queens Avenue Daycare.

“I loved it. That was a lot of fun, there was a lot of joy in the room, I think partially because of the good news about the Massey. Really, that was an upbeat performance. It was great. I don’t live in that world, but I would have a very difficult time picking weak spots in that production. It was a lot of fun.” – Casey Cook, New Westminster school trustee.

“I really enjoyed the show. The Royal City Musical Theatre consistently impresses me with the calibre of their work. I also thought the messaging in Fiddler on the Roof was so relevant to New West today, where there are many traditions – some are great and some maybe need to be relooked at and revamped because when you are so beholden to your traditions you can lose things you love.” – Jeremy Perry, director of sponsorship, New West Pride.

“I thought it was fabulous. My favourite is The Will Rogers Follies but this was so good – the energy, the music, the dancing. Everybody’s performances were top notch. The fellow that plays Tevye is just so talented. When you have a lead, if the lead is weak then the whole show is hmm. The whole show was fabulous, and those young girls and their voices! If people don’t go and see this one they are really going to miss out on something.” – Lynn Radbourne, New Westminster’s 2015 Citizen of the Year.

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