Tag: Anthony Warlow

REVIEW: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

L’Chaim!

By Narelle Wood

Directed by Roger Hodgman and original choreography reproduced by Dana Jolly, Melbourne’s new production of Fiddler on the Roof is a powerhouse production to kick off the 2016 theatre season.

Fiddler-on-the-Roof-Aust-Production-Anthony-Warlow-01-PIC-CREDIT-JEFF-BUSBY.jpg

Written in 1960’s the drama-filled musical, heralded as the first of its kind, has stood the test of time as its themes of tradition, family, love and displacement are just as relevant today. Set in a small village, Anatevka, Russia, the milkman Tevye (Anthony Warlow) is struggling to provide a comfortable life for his family. This includes his five strong-willed daughters, who Tevye hopes to marry off to suitable men that will provide some of the comforts he can not afford. With tensions brewing and the world changing around them, Tevye finds the traditions of his people being challenged by more than just his intelligent and independent daughters’ ideas on love.

The cast is full of some of Australia’s best stars of the stage. Warlow is joined by Sigrid Thornton (Golde), Lior (Motel), Nicki Wendt (Yente) and Mark Mitchell (Lazar Wolf); the latter’s transformation is so superb that I didn’t know it was Mitchell until I read the program. Warlow is also almost unrecognizable as Tevye, embodying all the warmth and humour of the character, yet Warlow’s presence is betrayed by his unmistakably rich voice.

While Warlow is clearly the star of the show for both his talent and the iconic role, the rest of the cast are just as masterful. The onstage relationship between Warlow and Thornton is endearing and Wendt’s portrayal of the matchmaker is as every bit hilarious as the character is nosey. There are several other exceptional performances in this production. Teagan Wouters (Tzeitel), Monica Swayne (Hodel) and Jessica Vickers (Chava) are all impressive as Tevye’s eldest daughters revealing exceptionally strong vocals.

There were so many moments where I found myself astonished by the talent on stage: Warlow’s rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man” and the ensemble dancers during “To Life” and “Wedding Dance”, for example. However one of the truly standout aspects of this production was the set design by Richard Roberts. Simple and understated but such a clever design concept that allows for such seemingly easy transitions between houses and into the town square.

To be honest, I would have been happy if the performance finished after Act 1 as Fiddler on the Roof had already exceeded all of my expectations; the fact that Act 2 extended this prodigious experience was a delightful bonus. This production of Fiddler on the Roof has certainly set the performance standard for 2016 and it will be a difficult task for others to match.

Venue: Princess Theatre, Spring St, Melbourne
Season: Until 27th Feb, Tues –Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm & Sun 3pm
Tickets: From $79.90
Bookings: http://www.ticketmaster.com.au

Image by Jeff Busby

Advertisements

REVIEW: Melbourne Premiere of DR ZHIVAGO THE MUSICAL

The lustre is lacking, but the performers bring their own shine

By Kim Edwards

Anthony Warlow received a standing ovation for Melbourne’s opening night of the new musical Dr. Zhivago, and it was richly deserved.

His sumptuous voice soars through Lucy Simon’s melodious ballads, and his sleek performance of Zhivago slides easily between delicate characterization and the sweeping charisma that made him glorious on the Australian and international stage.


However, the vehicle for his achievement has the propensity to be as clunky and awkward as the show’s cumbersome ‘train’ set piece. Dr. Zhivago the musical boasts a lavish and quite lovely score, a famous and beloved tale to tell, and fine performances from an excellent cast. But even the man himself could not overcome the problems of trite lyrics, perfunctory character development, historical caricature and messy staging.

Rising star Lucy Maunder has a bright beautiful voice, and is charming as Lara, although she is given little room to explore the character emotionally. Her lovely co-star Taneel van Zyl has even less opportunity in the thankless role of Tonia.

Fortunately Pasha the revolutionary-turned-rogue is fleshed out more fully, and allows dynamic Martin Crewes to rip into his character and create a ferocious, flamboyant and strangely pathetic and appealing man as Zhivago’s foil and reflection.


While clearly necessary to truncate an epic history and vast landscape for a two-act musical on a proscenium stage, sadly this is not managed well. The set is versatile but dull and the projections of giant figures looming over the action are disconcerting and distracting.

Great battles, tragic events and extraordinary moments of emotional possibility are packaged up into menial exposition, running about with chairs, and songs (in a story about a poet, no less) with relentless rhyming couplets so predictable they become painful.

Having said this, the show is by no means boring. The blocking is full of action and interest (although peasants suddenly turning from rural Russia to push a train into Moscow was one of several jarring continuity breaks). The cast work energetically through their material, and the wedding dancing by the revolutionaries and the lively female opening number for Act II were highlights.

Act II is generally superior in pace and excitement: there is also particularly beautiful lighting in the abandoned house, and the powerful confrontation of Zhivago and Pasha is more moving than the finale.

Playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne, Dr Zhivago is emphatically an enjoyable night out: if it does not achieve all the profound tragedy, romance and grandeur the tale deserves, hearing Warlow make magic once again is wonderfully worthwhile.

Photos by Kurt Sneddon