The Duncan Banner

February 20, 2014

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ a big hit

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — The energy I experienced Friday night at the Simmons Center Theatre is a rare thing.

About 700 people turned out for opening night of Duncan Little Theatre’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Call it a chemistry, the performers and audience melded into a single unit, creating what may have been a near perfect performance.

I first watched the film version of the Broadway music when I was a senior in high school, almost 13 years ago. My memory of the movie has been reduced to snippets from songs, which had begun to fade with time.

But as I watched DLT actors bringing the production to life, the words for many of the songs began to come back to me.

Let’s just say, I was glad to have a different, less pop version of “If I Were a Rich Man,” which has become synonymous with Gwen Stefani’s single “Rich Girl.” The song, like several others in the play, is performed by the lead character, Tevye, the Jewish father of five daughters. The primary conflict within the play is with Tevye, as he struggles with his daughters’ wishes to go against tradition.

Like Tevye, played to perfection by Ken Jones, I long to be a “rich man.” Jones grew out his own facial hair to capture the look of the character. But it’s Jones’ voice that captures the essence of Tevye.

This is the first time in 20 years DLT has performed “Fiddler.” Although I wasn’t here the first time around, I couldn’t imagine a better person to play Tevye.

And Jones wasn’t alone in actors stealing the limelight. The production was filled with outstanding, strong performances. There were too many to name right out, but if you look up the cast list, that would pretty much do it.

For this production, DLT hired Eric Bradford to lead the cast toward performances of a lifetime. Although I’ve seen many of the actors in other DLT productions, many of them seemed most at home with these characters.

The friendships, relationships were believable. Admittedly, it helps I know many of the people in this production. To me, it was like watching old friends. But I had to reacquaint myself with the characters, which made it seem like I was learning things I didn’t know about people I’ve known for years.

To me, Duncan Little Theatre is an asset to the area. The non-profit stays afloat with grants from the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Simmons Center Foundation, and from people buying tickets for their productions.

Friday’s performance showed how much the community could support such an organization. Nearly every seat was filled, a feat that hasn’t happened since DLT produced “Peter Pan” in 2009.

Next season’s lineup may also prove to be well regarded within the community. Plans are for a performances of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Sound of Music.” This season will wrap with “Always Patsy Cline” in June.

For anyone wanting to catch “Fiddler,” there are two more performances remaining. The next will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and the final will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday, both at the Simmons Center Theatre.