‘Fiddler on the Roof’ cast sticks to tradition in lively show

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Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Whether you’ve seen it once or 100 times, you’ll be humming the famous tunes while exiting the theater after seeing this classic musical.

The touring cast of “Fiddler on the Roof” reached Boston on Feb. 25 to perform the well-known production at the Emerson Colonial Theatre as part of the ongoing Broadway in Boston series.

Set in the small Russian town of Anatevka, the show follows a poor, close-knit Jewish family as the three oldest daughters break the tradition of meeting their husbands through a matchmaker and daringly go against their parent’s wishes for a chance at love.

“Fiddler on the Roof,” which originally debuted in 1964 and was most recently revived on Broadway in 2015, is adored by countless fans. While generations have enjoyed the musical and its raggedy costumes, the two-dimensional set and striking storyline haven’t wavered much over time. If you are not invested in the characters or music, the show’s lack of extravagant light displays and flashy set designs may be boresome.

The strongest performer was Yehezkel Lazarov in the role of Tevye, the charismatic and old-fashioned papa. Lazarov showcased his versatile acting by adding humor during unexpected times in some scenes, and sending a chill through the air with gut-wrenching lines in another. For example, when he disowns his daughter Chava (Noa Luz Barenblat) after she marries a man outside their religion in Act II, his voice cracks as he struggles to choose between his faith and his child.

Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Despite an overall somber storyline, the cast used silly facial expressions and sarcasm to make wretched scenes easier to digest. In addition to Tevye, widowed matchmaker Yente (Carol Beaugard) humored the audience with her bluntness and act of inviting herself into the family’s home.

While all of the leading roles were strong, the ensemble was equally brilliant. The remarkable harmonies they created during big numbers, like the song “To Life,” cannot be replicated on a recording. Their voices beautifully overlapped, winning over the audience with every melody.

The lively choreography was another important element that made the show feel conventional. The opening number “Tradition” and the hushed tune “Sabbath Prayer” were entertaining as cast members highlighted Jewish customs through song. Also, the dances during Tevye’s oldest daughter Tzeitel (Kelly Gabrielle Murphy) and Motel’s (Nick Siccone) wedding ceremony, which concluded Act I, made the spectator feel like they were sitting at the reception.

Smaller choreography in the show also stuck out because it helped develop the character’s personalities. When Tevye sang “If I Were a Rich Man” after a long day’s work, he goofily daydreams outside about having more wealth, prancing around the stage all the while. The eldest daughters were also sweet in “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” when the sisters poked fun at each other, showcasing moments everyone with a sibling could relate to. (Even the curtain call ended with dancing.)

In the show, Tevye says that if they don’t follow tradition, life would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof. This production’s reliance on the traditional parts of the musical proves that statement true, since little was shaky about the performance.

“Fiddler on the Roof” will play at the Emerson Colonial Theatre until March 8. Tickets can be purchased online or through the box office.