Having acted in the show, I suffer at times from Fiddler fatigue, so I wondered what I was in for as I headed to Solvang to see PCPA’s first Solvang production of the summer. By midway through the first number, however, resistance was futile. The force and animation of the full ensemble dazzled, and the songs meshed like the watch gears of a tradition about to come undone. Or redone, rather, and transformed. This Fiddler is all about resilience; how a small but representative thread of the Jewish Diaspora survived modernity and revolution in Russia, circa 1905.
Erik Stein as Tevye is at the top of the list of the many things this production has going for it. Keeping clear of other interpretations, Stein has followed his own internal pointer to the heart of the loving, testy, prayerful, philosophical, candid dairyman. His comic timing is superb, and his gravitas wrenching, but above all, he projects the canny innocence that is key to the role. PCPA faculty and favorites also include Kitty Balay as Golde and Peter S. Hadres as the rabbi. Michael Jenkinson plays up the timidity of Motel the tailor. Elizabeth Stuart is the garrulous matchmaker Yente, as well as the ghost of Fruma Sarah during a spectacular and hilarious rendering of Tevye’s dream.
PCPA demonstrates the perennial relevance of this great musical with a Fiddler that stands on the two feet of humor and forgiveness, the two ways that, amid uncertainty and displacement, life can always be affirmed.>