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Sundance's 'Fiddler' makes tradition fun, fresh

Published: Monday, July 28 2014 5:52 p.m. MDT

Golde (Marcie Jacobsen) and Tevye (David Stensrud) in "Fiddler On The Roof" at the Sundance Mountain Resort amphitheater.

Justin Hackworth Photography

"FIDDLER ON THE ROOF," Sundance Mountain Resort and UVU, through Aug. 16, Outdoor amphitheater at Sundance Mountain Resort, 8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance (866-734-4428 or sundanceresort.com/create/hap_theatre), running time: 2 hours 45 minutes (one intermission)

SUNDANCE — Just when one might have thought "Fiddler On The Roof" was overdone, the Sundance production came along and changed everything.

Here is a show done along the traditional lines but with freshness and heart that make it new.

David Stensrud as Tevye is a gruff, beleaguered milkman who talks to God like he's the next-door neighbor. He's funny, candid, humble and taken by surprise by his daughters' decisions in love and marriage — decisions that challenge Jewish tradition.

He's gentle and bold and afraid of his wife, but not so much that he doesn't risk all by fooling her with a hilarious concoction of a dream that gets him out of an agreement he doesn't want to honor. (The dream sequence is priceless with little boys peering out of a closet and ghostly brides falling off a roof.)

Marcie Jacobsen is wonderful as Golde: fussy, loving and perpetually exasperated at Tevye.

Stensrud and Jacobsen have previously done this show for Hale Center Theater in Orem, so it would be easy for them to coast through. But they don't. They shine in their roles, as do those who play the daughters and their suitors: Tzeitel (Danica Donaldson) and Motel (Jon Rose); Hodel (Kaitlyn Dahl) and Perchik (Jack Shapiro); and Chava (Sariah Hopkin) and Fyedka (Chase Ramsey).

Rose as Motel is especially endearing as he tries to win out over his fear of the shouting Tevye and claim his true love.

Yente, played by Melany Wilkins, is a rather likable matchmaker who comes off more as a well-meaning busybody than as an interfering neighbor.

Lazar Wolf, played by Jake Suazo, is also made to be a more sympathetic character here than he is in some "Fiddler" shows.

James Arrington clearly knew what he wanted from his cast and got it. As a result, the audience is treated to a well-done, heartwarming experience.

The dialogue is well-delivered. The expressions on the actors' faces tell so much of the story and add so much humor.

There are no dead spots in the story.

The set, designed by Stephen Purdy, is colorful and clever. It's mostly wood with different muted colors for the houses and walls that open up to become the homes and the local bar.

Jennifer Hill-Barlow's choreography keeps the story moving as the various groups, mamas, papas, daughters, etc., come together.

The costuming is fun and has a little more color than is generally seen in "Fiddler."

The fiddler poses on the roof in many dangerous ways — either he is fearless or he has some safety system the audience doesn't know about.

The dancing is lively and includes a five-man bottle dance.

The vocals are flawless. The signature songs from this story, including "Sabbath Prayer," "Sunrise, Sunset," "If I Were a Rich Man" and "Do you Love Me?" are sweet and nicely performed.

This is a summer show to see with the family. It's beautiful in the mountains, the pace is crisp and the themes, including persecution and tradition, are good for discussion.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com

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