I got back yesterday from my trip to Toronto to visit my sister. It was a lovely visit, although damp, and it was much needed. It was great to see a few friends from the way back as well as my sister and her husband. One of the highlights of the trip was a short road trip to the Stratford Festival where we caught Tommy and Fiddler on the Roof. I have been to Stratford before, but hadn't realized how close to Toronto it was. The 2 hour drives there and back were great opportunities for more visiting with my sis and we made the most of it.
We saw Tommy on Friday evening after driving up and checking into our cute bed and breakfast, The Artful Lodger. I was really geared up to see this show because Robert Markus was playing Tommy and as you probably know from my reviews of Next to Normal (Citadel) and The Rocky Horror Show (Citadel) I am a definite fan. He and the show did not disappoint! From the first chord of the show you knew you were seeing something spectacular. The sets (50% projections) were amazing and the costumes and concepts just brilliant. It was a super tight show and it built from start to finish. Overall the production was amazing with everyone rising to the challenge of what was asked of them. It was a tight, tight ensemble, but I did want to comment on a few performances. I loved Robert Markus as Tommy along with his two younger versions. I am not sure which actors were playing those roles on the night we saw it, but I was really impressed with them. My sister was as well, saying that Markus made the show for her. Together, the three of them were very cohesive as one character. I also loved Jeremy Kushnier as Captain Walker. What a voice! I will keep my ear out for any future opportunities to see and hear him in a show. Paul Nolan was terrific fun as Cousin Kevin and Steve Ross was delightfully slimy as wicked Uncle Ernie. This was definitely one show that earned it's almost instantaneous standing ovation.
After a lovely night in our B&B, we took in the Saturday matinee of Fiddler on the Roof. It was also very well done. However, I realized that like Sound of Music, Fiddler is on my list of shows I have seen too many times. Since I have been in the show twice (once as Golde and once as Grandma Tzeitel) I had very little sense of surprise or wonder. That being said, I do feel this was an exceptionally strong production. For someone not as familiar with the show as I am I think they would be blown away. Scott Wentworth is a funny and accessible Tevye and he anchored the show effortlessly. I also feel that doing Fiddler in a Thrust theatre is the absolute best way to do the show. You feel as though you are part of the village and the staging lends itself to the circular patterns of choreography that feel so right for the show. Of the supporting cast, I connected the most with Jennifer Stewart as Tzeitel, Keely Hutton as Chava and Paul Nolan as Fyedka, but here again was a super tight ensemble so it is hard to pick. They were a true little village onstage!
All in all it was a wonderful time in Stratford. I am hoping to be able to make more visits and see more shows there, if not this season, then next!
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