Julianne Boyd and Barrington Stage Company love to take chances. Big musicals require large casts and sets, and represent a serious financial commitment. Sponsors (like Berkshire Bank) take a risk too. Happily, if you ask anyone who was at Sunday’s opening of Fiddler on the Roof – which is the first musical of the Berkshire summer – Barrington Stage has once again staged a total and complete winner. It has everything. Make your plans now, you are guaranteed to leave the theatre with a whole raft of colorful characters dancing in your head, and humming some wonderful old fashioned tunes.
The major reason for this Fiddler’s success is its lead actor.
The role of Tevye is being played – for the first time – by Brad Oscar who opens the show with the popular song “Tradition” and then rockets to the heights as the musical unfolds. In the end we watch him slowly hauling his milk wagon off the stage – now filled with a few household possessions – as the curtain comes down and the audience applauds and applauds until their hands are red. Opening night, there was a standing ovation to boot.
Back in 1964 when the original show opened, Howard Taubman of the Times wrote that if “Sholem Aleichem had known Zero Mostel, he would have chosen him, one is sure, for Tevye.” He might update that reference had he been able to see Mr. Oscar.