Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (UK) • 6 January 2007 • 7:30pm
Book by Joseph Stein, based on the Sholem Aleichem stories. Music by Jerry Bock. Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.
Director: Lindsay Posner. Music Director: Dane Preece. With Henry Goodman (Tevye), Beverley Klein (Golde)…
When I heard that Henry Goodman was to play Tevye in this production, I became curious. He drew considerable attention to himself when he got fired from the Broadway production of The Producers after much hype about his replacing Nathan Lane. I remember his giving a fine performance as Nathan Detroit in the beautiful production of Guys & Dolls at the National Theatre… and also playing a somewhat frantic Buddy in the Royal Festival Hall production of Follies. Well… his Tevye is also a bit on the nervous side, but overall I found his performance to be a success.
The Crucible Theatre’s production is slick and winsome. Its great cast does justice to Bock and Harnick’s masterpiece. I was particularly happy to see that Beverley Klein had been cast as Golde: her Old Lady in the National Theatre’s production of Candide remains as one of my best theatrical memories ever. She is a fine Golde… and really managed to bring out the emotion in “Do You Love Me.”
Too bad the production could only afford an eight-piece orchestra: the glory of Bock’s score was lost in places. Also, for the first time in a very long time in the UK, I thought that the sound design was not completely satisfactory.
Studio 54, New York • 2 December 2006 • 8pm (preview)
Music: Jerry Bock. Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick. Book: J. Bock & S. Harnick.
Directed by Gary Griffin. Musical Director: Rob Fisher. With Kristin Chenoweth, Brian d’Arcy James, Marc Kudisch…
Funny how this trip to New York has allowed me to see three of my all-time favourite shows: A Chorus Line, Company and The Apple Tree, a show I thought I’d never see in a major production. (I did see a very good production of it at the tiny Landor Theatre in London.)
Of course, The Apple Tree needs a strong leading lady, somebody who is at the same time a first-rate comedian and a first-rate singer… and certainly Kristin Chenoweth fits the bill magnificently. She is the perfect choice to step in Barbara Harris’s shoes. Chenoweth would be a star if we still had stars. She had already played the three parts of the show in the Encores! production, which I’d been unable to attend, much to my sorrow.
Thank God the Roundabout decided to produce the show at Studio 54, one of the most charming venues in New York. I can hardly describe my joy at being able to see what is in my book one of the most charming shows ever written. The staging is cute and respectful; Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrations are wonderful; and there are not enough superlatives to describe Kristin Chenoweth’s performance. Her co-stars, Brian d’Arcy James and Marc Kudisch, also deliver strong performances. (I’m not a big fan of Mr. Kudisch… but I have to admit he’s fine in the show.)
The next show at Studio 54 will be another dream come true: 110 in the Shade, starring the incomparable Audra McDonald. Now if somebody would please revive The Rothschilds, I would be a happy man…