“Fiddler” plays to sold-out crowds

The Golden Chain Theatre’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” opened to rave reviews from three sold-out performances last weekend.

First seen on Broadway Sept. 22, 1964, the story centers around a small Ukraine village, Anatevka, in 1905 where milkman Tevye complains to God a bit, but basically enjoys life with his wife, their five daughters and his fellow villagers.

It’s the story of finding the balance between tradition and change - between what adults want for their children, and what their children hope and dream for.

James Mierkey stands-out with his strong performance in his role of Tevye, a gruff man with a warm heart, and a strong sense of tradition who is constantly trying his best to balance tradition with the changing ways of the world. It’s a timeless story of Tevye, the Jewish, philosophical patriarch, and his family who struggle to keep up with the changing world around them.

Although Mierkey is very commanding in his lead role, Julie Riley playing his hard-working, hard-nosed wife, Golde, holds her own in the amusing and often emotional production.

The show is directed by the talented Jennifer Piccolotti, GCT’s artistic director.

Older villagers celebrate their commitment to keeping things the way they have always been. The younger generation, particularly three of Tevye’s daughters who are finding true love, don’t like the tradition of matchmaking and want some say in who they will wed.

Kelly Ravel, Lyric Piccolotti, and Alli Ruiz are excellent in their roles as Tevye’s three eldest daughters, and their song “Matchmaker” is one of the show’s highlights.

Stephanie Brock brings comic relief as the persistent and humorous matchmaker Yente.

Other special moments are spirited ensemble performances on “To Life” (with high energy Russian dancing by the Community Dance and Theatre dance performance team) and “Sunrise, Sunset,” as well as the spooky song “The Dream.”

Nearly 70 men, women, and children make up the Fiddler cast, the largest to ever appear on the GCT stage. The cast and crew’s commitment to Fiddler, nearly 13,000 hours of combined rehearsal time, translates to the finished production.

Broadway has come to Oakhurst

“Broadway has come to Oakhurst,” said Jeri Barron, who has seen more than 40 plays on Broadway and around the world. “I know a good play when I see it, and this production of Fiddler is a great production with a lot of very talented people.”

Oakhurst resident Ann Topham said (James) Mierkey, playing Tevye, has a great voice, and his portrayal of Tevye is spot on. She also praised YHS teacher George Rich as Lazar Wolf.

“It’s a wonderful production from start to finish,” Topham said. “The wedding scene was marvelous, as was all the dancing. This show proves there is a lot of talent in our mountains.”

Mierkey also serves as the musical director for the show.

Peyton Riley, 13, doesn’t miss a note as she has the honor of opening and closing the show as the ‘fiddler.’ And yes, literally ‘on the roof.’

Mierkey’s singing is strong on such classics as “Tradition,” and “If I Were a Rich Man.” His duet with Riley on “Do You Love Me?” is another highlight.

Teena Hagerman from Coarsegold’s Community Dance and Theater, and Jennifer Piccolotti, served as choreographers for the production.

“As I look on the stage and see my wonderful theater family, I am blessed to have my own mother and father on the stage, along with my daughter and son who allow me to witness the changes that occur with time,” Piccolotti said. “I am honored to be sharing Fiddler with everyone. I hope people will share it with their children and their children’s children.”

With a large number of advance ticket sales for Fiddler, it seems to be on its way to being the largest attended production in the history of the nearly 50 year-old GCT.

This is a ‘must-see’ production. Those attending will more than likely be amazed at the level of professionalism and talent on the Golden Chain stage.

The production won nine Tony Awards, including best musical, score, book, direction, and choreography. It spawned four Broadway revivals and a highly successful 1971 film adaptation. The show, based on the stories of Shalem Aleichem, is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. The Golden Chain production came at the perfect time because Fiddler is set to return to Broadway in January, and once it hits Broadway, the rights will be restricted for community theaters.

Details: “Fiddler on the Roof” (rated G) - The Golden Chain Theatre, 42130 Highway 41, Oakhurst - Nov. 13-29, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p..m. - Tickets range $8-$15 - group rates available -, (559) 683-7112.