Tradition – the emphatic word that defines the beginning and end of Fiddler on the Roof . . . and a word that defines just what Hamilton Operatic and Dramatic Club brings to the stage.
With a history stretching back to 1903, and with many of the current cast and production team having been involved the last time the club presented ‘Fiddler’ 16 years ago, there was a wealth of experience on tap to enthral audiences at Motherwell Concert Hall recently.
And enthral them they did. From the first familiar and atmospheric note, the watchers packed into the auditorium were taken to the fictional Russian village of Anatevka.
With his first entrance, Gordon Watson instantly gave us Tevye and set the scene against the backdrop of suppression in imperialist Russia to perform the three-way balancing act to keep true to his faith, the happiness of his daughters and the demands of his wife.
Gordon’s rich baritone voice and strong stage presence lent themselves perfectly to a role that saw him seldom absent from the stage.
Complementing him ideally was Margaret Thomson, as wife Golde, making a believable couple and allowing us to feel for Tevye in his apprehension at having, on crucial occasions, to explain his breaks with tradition where his daughters’ marriage plans were concerned.
The daughters themselves were brought to life endearingly by Emma Rodger (Tzeitel), Laura Abbas Sabri (Hodel) and Carly Slamin (Chava), while their lovers were given their distinctive and varied personalities by Peter Scally (Motel, the terrified tailor), Ray O’Sullivan (Perchik, the radical revolutionary) and Cameron King (Fyedka, the sympathetic soldier).
Those matches dismay Yente the matchmaker, played by May Weir, who brought poignancy later without conflicting with the humour of her earlier scenes.
Lazar Wolf, the fiery butcher, is seldom more than two dimensional, but Roland Russell brought his considerable experience to bear to flesh out the character.
A similar problem faces the supporting roles, but it was testament to the strength in depth of the club that when given the briefest opportunity they took it.
Organising fell to the experienced team of director/choreographer Irené McMillan, musical director Elizabeth Pearson, assistant choreographer Suzanne Gilliland and assistant musical director Christine Robertson.
They did so with a success that was evidenced by the enjoyment of the packed audience and it seems tradition may live on for many years to come!