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Celebrity Attractions brings its 2011-12 season to a close with 'Fiddler on the Roof'

A national touring production of “Fiddler on the Roof” reminds us why it has remained a classic for nearly 50 years.
Oklahoman Published: May 3, 2012

Andrew Boza's Motel is an excitable but nervously timid tailor, Joshua Phan-Gruber's Perchik is an erudite student and Michael Shultz is subtly imposing and unflappable as Fyedka. David B. Springstead's Lazar Wolf is a nicely-crafted performance that allows the role of the butcher to seem more prominent than it is.

Gerri Weagraff is a tough and unwavering Golde, and Pamela D. Chabora is a scatterbrained and gossipy Yente. Brooke Hills, Sarah Sesler and Chelsey LeBel portray Golde's three eldest daughters with conviction if not always with distinction.

Any production of “Fiddler on the Roof” succeeds or fails on the strengths of the actor playing Tevye, a world-weary, impatient and exasperated milkman whose love for his family often wreaks havoc with his religious beliefs.

John Preece offers a nuanced and frequently humorous portrayal as Tevye, a man who talks to God and rationalizes opposing viewpoints with phrases that alternate between “on the one hand” and “on the other hand.”

Despite having played the role more than 1,900 times, Preece never gives the impression that he's switched into autopilot mode. His gestures, facial expressions, line readings and mumblings are priceless yet always endearing.

Preece was experiencing vocal difficulties opening night — coughs and throat clearings punctuated his delivery — yet his voice always had ample weight, projection and a fine sense of musicality.

Revisiting “Fiddler” reminds us that classic shows are both timeless and universal, a rare combination that emerges in surprisingly few musicals. As Motel might say, “Fiddler” is “a wonder of wonders, a miracle of miracles.”

— Rick Rogers