BY RICK MAUCH
There are many very good reasons to see the Granbury Theatre Company’s production of “Fiddler On The Roof.”
And there’s one great reason. Brian Lawson.
In arguably the best performance ever given by a local actor on a Granbury stage, Lawson is nothing short of magnificent in the role of Tevye, the main character. For lack of a better way to phrase it, this was truly a role he was born to play.
One person who also saw the musical on its opening weekend described his performance as “Broadway worthy.” While I never saw “Fiddler” on the Broadway stage, I will say that I enjoyed Lawson’s performance equally to that of Zero Mostel’s in the Oscar-nominated movie.
Having worked alongside Lawson in “The Promise” a few years ago, I immediately became aware that he is talented. That was further enhanced with his performance in last summer’s “1776.” But as good as those were, they take a backseat to what he does with the character of Tevye.
He masters every mannerism, every syllable of a hard-working, traditional father/husband in a Jewish village battling hard times in Russia at the turn of the 20th century. And that booming voice lifts the listener to another level with each note sung, particularly with the ever-popular “If I Were A Rich Man.”
But Lawson is hardly the only reason to see “Fiddler,” the best production to date from the Granbury Theatre Company in its run of almost a year in town. They bring the necessary magnificence to one of the greatest musicals of all time, and they wonderfully tell one of the great stage stories ever as Tevyie and his family battle with keeping long-standing traditions or moving into more modern times.
The story centers on Tevyie coming to terms with his daughters getting wed, but not in the traditional sense he is accustomed to. While he and his wife of 25 years, Golde (Emily Warwick in a strong debut performance), are the products of an arranged marriage, his daughters have other plans. They want to marry for love, which eventually prompts Tevyie to ask Golde if, after a quarter of a century, she really does love him?
That moment is one of several that brought a tear to my eye. There are also many moments where I chuckled and downright laughed.
Along with the fantastic music, which includes great numbers such as “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and the bouncy prologue “Tradition,” the show is a plethora of emotions. Villagers try their best to live peacefully while the Czar’s reign threatens their way of life daily. Tevyie speaks to God regularly throughout the show, much as one would to a neighbor or a good friend.
Always faithful, he nonetheless sometimes questions the Lord’s choices with comments such as “There’s no shame in being poor. Of course, there’s no great honor, either.”
The large cast features a host of wonderful performances alongside Lawson. Also, director Andrew Barrus and choreographer Brooke Elyse Wilson make the most of the small stage at the old Granbury Live theater, providing the image of a much larger area.
There is a reason this show, which opened on Broadway in 1964, has achieved its legendary status. It is quite simply one of the greatest musicals ever created, and performances such as the one currently by the Granbury Theatre Company will help keep it that way.
[email protected] |817-573-7066, ext. 256
Fiddler On The Roof
Who: Granbury Theatre Company
Where: Granbury Live facility, on the square
When: Now through May 4
Showtimes: Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday matinee at 3:30 p.m.
Tickets: Adults $20, seniors (65-older) and students (college, high school) $17, children (12-under) $15.
Contact: 817-579-0952 or www.granburytheatrecompany.org