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THEATER REVIEW: A Good Tradition!

by Chris Conley

I knew a little about Jewish traditions from growing up in Brooklyn. The Gravesend neighborhood was part Italian, part Jewish. Italians had smaller families, and as they prospered they moved to Staten Island or the suburbs. The Jews, particularly the Orthodox and Syrians, had large families and as they prospered they'd move five or six blocks closer to their synagogue on Ocean Parkway.

Even if you weren't Jewish you knew the traditions. Jews walked to temple on Saturday. Their shops closed early on Friday night and didn't open again until Sunday. Moshe's Delicatessen, on the corner from our apartment, served only beef frankfurters and never ham and cheese.

These are not traditions that are universally known in Central Wisconsin, where I wondered if Fiddler On The Roof would play well.

Silly me. Wausau Community Theater's production does just fine, as their strong 2009-2010 season rolls on.

There are two supporting actors in the cast who are standouts. Maggie Ward, as the middle daughter Hodel, has the best singing voice in the production and has very good stage presence. And Joshua Grant, as the tailor Motel, has notably strong acting skills.

But you can't have a good Fiddler On The Roof without a strong Tevye, and Larry Kirchgaessner more than obliges. The role is a good match for his acting skills. He's particularly strong as he debates, wrestles, and negotiates with the Almighty.

Finally, Robin McDowell's fiddle gets the first and last word in this production. She's skilled with her instrument.

Chris Conley
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications, Wausau
3.13.10

The final performance of Wausau Community Theater's Fiddler On The Roof is Sunday at 2pm at The Grand Theater.


By Graphic House, New York (ebay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons