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Theater Review: A high-energy “Fiddler” at Northampton Community College Summer Theatre

High-energy talent might be a good shorthand way to say “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Written by Joseph Stein with music and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Buck, the play is inspired by the stories of Sholem Aleichem.

The Northampton Community College Summer Theatre production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” through July 7, is directed by Gustavo Wons. What a great production of a terrific story.

The July 3 performance was seen for this review.

Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman, is played by Mark Stutz, who is a versatile, imposing stage presence.

Tevye is the lovable father of four daughters in a traditional Russian Jewish community, which is faced with the inevitable upheaval of their lives by modern times and sinister, repressive forces they scarcely understand.

Stutz’s rich voice resonates as he leads the villagers in “Prolog: Tradition” as the importance of traditional values is extolled. Stutz is marvelous singing “If I Were a Rich Man,” expressing a value that resonates with everyone.

Tish Steele (Golde) brilliantly plays a rock-solid, loving mother with a beautiful singing voice.

Golde is always looking to marry her daughters off to good, preferably rich, men. Steele is solid throughout, and especially memorable in “Do You Love Me?,” where she realizes that she loves Tevye, her husband of 25 years, as the idea of love in such a practical partnership is seemingly a surprise to her.

The five daughters: Tzeitel (Maria Pallete), Hodel (Lydia Walker), Chava (Isabelle Awald), Shprintze, (Bela Ambroise) and Bielke (Maicel Wheatley) in their rousing rendition of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” makes it clear that the perfect match would be “someone wonderful ... Someone interesting ... And well-off ... And important ... “

Denise Long (Yente, the matchmaker) is great fun. Yente seems out of touch with modern mating rituals as the daughters, in spite of the sentiments of the song, seem to have their own ideas about who they want to marry.

Dylan Penyak (Motel) is superb as the young, impoverished tailor who wins the hand of eldest daughter, Tzeitel, beautifully played by Maria Pallete.

Penyak’s song “Miracle of Miracles,” that of all of God’s miracles, “The most miraculous one of all ... Is that out of a worthless lump of clay ... God has made a man today.” It’s a culture shock considering that her very traditional father had just promised her hand to the rich, widowed and much older butcher, Lazar Wolf, powerfully portrayed by Yul Carrion.

Cindy Ernst, playing Golde’s Grandma Tzeitel, is fantastic in a dream scene as she blesses the proposed marriage and Tevye’s decision to bless his daughter to marry a poor man.

Max Wetherhold, as Perchik, another suitor, revolutionary student and stranger to the community, is convincing as a young man not so impressed with wealth but who seems to wear his poverty on his sleeve as he ruminates about the big social change coming. Regardless, Perchik and the second youngest daughter, Hodel, in an impressive performance by Lydia Walker, defy tradition by informing Tevye of their decision to marry.

When the Russian Christian soldier Fyedka, flawlessly played by Harrilson Fox, sets his cap for the Jewish family’s third daughter, Chava (Isabelle Awald), tradition again is ignored.

Providing sinister foreshadowing of the village’s ultimate fate is The Constable (Andy Van Antwerp).

Katelyn Morgan is an imposing apparition as Fruma-Sarah.

Ted Williams (Rabbi) is impressive as the village rabbi and chief arbiter of what is and is not forbidden by scripture.

Throughout the play, elegant violinist Camilla Backman is superior as The Fiddler.

Zayne Thomie as The Priest is terrific.

Members of the Ensemble-Townsfolk play minor characters, one of whom, Connor Sternberg as Sasha, is outstanding as a friend of Fyedka the Russian soldier.

Bowen Huang, of the Ensemble-Townsfolk, is a noteworthy dancer, as is Julianna Braga.

The dance troupe portraying young Russian dancers is outstanding in skill and enthusiastic athletic performance. Wons’ choreography is spectacular, lively and great fun.

Music direction by Chad Miller is perfectly done, allowing the actors’ dialogue to be clearly understood.

Dance Captain Jenna Williamson gets deserved kudos for a great job.

The “Bottle Dance” is fabulous. Credit for this dance goes to Adrain Colon-Burgos, Sergio Salinas, John Greison, Calum Sullivan, Julio Hernandez and Mateo Villarreal.

Tech Director and Set-Lighting Designer Brett Oliveira creates the village scenes and a mood of impending upheaval in the night-time skies.

Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr as Cultural Consultant ensures the authenticity of the production. Artistic Director Clair M. Freeman gets high marks.

Costumer Brenda McGuire and Assistant Costumer Mina Price and Wig Mistress Heather Sheldon put together a fabulous wardrobe for the actors, thus thoroughly capturing the look of rural 1905-era Russia.

The music and dancing make the show.

“Fiddler on the Roof,” 7:30 p.m. July 3, 5, 6; 5 p.m. July 4; 2 p.m. July 7, Northampton Community College Summer Theatre, Lipkin Theater, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem Township. 484-484-3412, https://www.ncctix.org/

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY AMICO STUDIOSThe cast of “Fiddler on the Roof,” Northampton Community College Summer Theatre.