Toby’s Dinner Theatre Fiddler on the RoofBy Jennifer Gusso • Feb 21st, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Toby’s Dinner Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Columbia, MD
Through April 28th
2:45 with one intermission
Reviewed February 16th, 2013
“Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye explains about his Jewish community in Anatevka, a fictional town that is experiencing the effects of the very real anti-Jewish pogroms during the latter part of the reign of Tzar Nicholas II. The world is changing fast around the people in the town, and we see this struggle played out through the eyes of Tevye the Milkman, as his three oldest daughters all make decisions that go against the normal course of tradition.
Toby’s production messes a little bit too much with the tradition that is Fiddler on the Roof in some places and has a few serious flaws, but, really, this is a show that is so focused around the character of Tevye that he is the only performer who can really make or break the production. In this particular case, David Bosley-Reynolds is so exceptionally loveable that nothing else really matters. His Tevye is heartfelt and larger-than-life. This performance rests entirely on his shoulders, and it is impressive how he holds it up at all times.
The production value is also top-notch. The lighting, set, and sound are flawless. Every once in a while, there is a costume piece that seems slightly off with the time period and geographic location, but overall the costumes are well-done and appropriate. The orchestra sounds amazing. The ensemble is a vocal force to be reckoned with, and there is nary a bad step in the delivery of excellent choreography. The bottle dance at the wedding is especially well-conceived and well-delivered.
It is the supporting cast that is a little uneven, and there are a few questionable casting choices. As Golde, Jane C. Boyle’s performance is solid, but it is not quite to the level of Bosley-Reynold’s Tevye. Their “Do You Love Me?” is touching, but, in many scenes, she is forgettable beside his tour-de-force performance.
The most problematic performances are Tina Marie DeSimone’s Tzeitel and David James’ Motel. It is hard to get over that they are both substantially older than two young people just beginning their lives, especially since the roles are traditionally played by a pair that is much younger. What makes it even harder is that both performers seem to be wildly over-acting in order to give the illusion of being much younger, and it unfortunately is mostly unsuccessful. They are both evidently strong performers in other ways, but they are ill-suited to these particular roles.
Debra Buonaccorsi (Hodel) is significantly better at making herself come across younger and holds up well in her role. Opposite her as Perchik, Shawn Kettering is a little intense at times, but overall it works as a contrast between his character and the others.
The strongest supporting performance comes from Katie Heidbreder, not only as Chava, but especially in her scene-stealing moment as Grandma Tzeitel. Heather Marie Beck’s Fruma-Sarah is also strong, making “The Tailor, Motel Kamzoil (The Dream)” an overall very enjoyable sequence.
As Tevye experiences, it can be hard to deal when things break with tradition. This was hard to swallow with some of the untraditional casting in the show, but, overall the exceptional quality of the production and the strong, enjoyable performance of David Bosley-Reynolds make it an overall successful production.
Photos by Kirstine Christiansen
- Tevye: David Bosley-Reynolds
- Golde: Jane C. Boyle
- Tzeitel: Tina Marie DeSimone
- Hodel: Debra Buonaccorsi
- Chava: Katie Heidbreder
- Shprintze: Arielle Gordon
- Bielke: Amanda Kaplan
- Yente: Susan Porter
- Motel: David James
- Perchick: Shawn Kettering
- Lazar Wolf: Andrew Horn
- Mordcha: Robert John Biederman 125
- Rabbi: Alan Hoffman
- Mendel: Matthew Greenfield
- Avram: Chad Wheeler
- Nachum: Will Emory
- Grandma Tzeitel: Katie Heidbreder
- Fruma-Sarah: Heather Marie Beck
- Constable: Lawrence B. Munsey
- Fyedka: Jeffrey Shankle
- Shaindel: Victoria Winter
- Ruth: Heather Marie Beck
- Leah: Melynda Burdette
- Sasha: Ian Brown-Gorrell
- The Fiddler: Ray Hatch
- Understudies: Tevye (Alan Hoffman), Golde (Melynda Burdette), Tzeitel, Fruma Sarah (Coby Kay Callahan), Yente (Victoria Winter), Lazar Wolf (Robert John Biederman 125), Hodel (Katie Heidbreder), Grandma, Chava (Arielle Gordon), Motel, Sasha (Will Emory), Perchik (Matt Greenfield), Mordcha, Rabbi, The Fiddler (Chad Wheeler), Mendel, Fyedka (Ian Brown-Gorrell)
- Swings: Coby Kay Callahan, Adalia Jimenez
- Co-Directors/Choreographers: Tina DeSimone and David James
- Musical Director: Douglas Lawler
- Scenic Designer: David A. Hopkins
- Costume Designer: Celia Blitzer
- Lighting Designer: Coleen M. Foley
- Sound Designer: Drew Dedrick
- Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
- Production Stage Manager: Kate Wackerle
- Stage Managers: Drew Dedrick, Kate Wackerle
- Technical Director: Jimmy Engelkemier
- Master Carpenter: David A. Hopkins
- Set Construction: David A. Hopkins, Russell Sunday, Ian Wallace
- Properties & Set Dressing: Amy Kaplan
- Light Board Operators: Coleen M. Foley, Erin MacDonald
- Sound Board Operators: Drew Dedrick, Jimmy Engelkemier
- Stage Crew: Laura Blasi, Jason Britt, Erin MacDonald
- Piano/Conductor: Douglas Lawler or Ross Scott Rawlings
- Keyboard 2: Anne Prizzi, Ed Meyers, or Pamela Wilt
- Trumpet: Tony Neenan or Frank Gorecki III
- Clarinet: Steve Haaser or Charlene McDaniel
- Percussion: Aaron Holmes, Jack Loercher, or N. Scott Robinson
Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://maryland.showbizradio.com/goto/486.
Jennifer Gusso has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's in Education. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches Mathematics at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland.