While the opening night of AN ACT OF GOD is not until November 2, we would like to invite you to meet The Almighty and Her two “wingmen” for a sneak peek at our PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN Night on Wednesday, October 31 at 8:00 pm.
The Human Race
One of the most beloved television families of the 1980s is set to make a long awaited return in the world premiere of Family Ties, written by Daniel Goldstein (The Song of Songs, Unknown Soldier and Row), based on the classic television series, directed by The Human Race’s President & Artistic Director Kevin Moore and produced by special arrangement by Araca Media & Entertainment.
Twenty years have passed and Alex P. Keaton, now running for Congress, returns to his parents’ Columbus home with his sisters, Mallory and Jennifer, who are parents of their own. Gathered together once again, they relive some of the most important moments from their childhood – the growing pains, heartbreaks and reconciliations – with fondness and appreciation for simpler times that defined a generation. The preview performance of Family Ties is Thursday, June 1. Opening night is Friday, June 2, and the production runs through June 25 at The Human Race’s home at downtown Dayton’s Loft Theatre.
Responsible for shepherding Goldstein’s play through development, New York City-based Araca Media & Entertainment believed the stage version of Family Ties—a series about a family living in central Ohio—should make its debut in the Buckeye State when it brought the property to The Human Race’s Kevin Moore in 2016. “To be hand selected as the theatre to bring this show to life is a huge honor, and speaks to our national reputation,” beams Moore, who has directed and produced dozens of new plays and musicals over the past thirty years. “Developing new works has become a vital part of our mission,” explains Moore, “and working with playwright Danny Goldstein has been a joy and privilege. Theatre is never more exciting than when you are creating something for the first time.”
Unlike most new works, Family Ties has the added benefit of nostalgia for Moore, and likely much of the country. “Being a TV show that I watched faithfully, I am thrilled to be able to continue the Keatons’ story,” he says, “and to find out how life played out for these characters who I, and America, loved for seven seasons.” While preparing for rehearsals on the play, which revisits many poignant moments in the characters’ lives twenty years earlier, Moore spent time watching and reviewing episodes from the television series. “The research—if I may call binge watching ‘research’—was refreshing.” He explains, “I was reminded how many tough and timeless issues are tackled in Family Ties, and how smart the writing of the TV show is. Yes, it is a comedy, but good comedy comes from good drama. And that’s what we’re really all about at The Human Race.”
CAST AND DESIGN TEAM
The six-member cast features Jim Stanek (Fun Home, Lestat, The Rivals on Broadway) as “Alex,” Eve Plumb (TV’s The Brady Bunch, Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway and Fudge, Unbroken Circle Off-Broadway) as “Elyse” and Lawrence Redmond (Intelligence at Arena Stage, A Prayer for Owen Meany at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Elmer Gantry at Signature Theatre) as “Steven.” Thea Brooks (Dirty Dancing 1st national tour, I Love Lucy, Live on Stage national tour) plays “Mallory,” Sara Mackie (Hands on a Hardbody and Other Desert Cities at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Green Gables for HRTC) is the youngest daughter, “Jennifer.” Maggie Lou Rader (Heavier Than… at Know Theatre Cincinnati, Emma and Little Women at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company) rounds out the ensemble as Alex’s love interest, “Ellen.”
The creative team includes Tamara L. Honesty (Other Desert Cities, Becky’s New Car and Lombardi at HRTC), scenic design; Janet G. Powell (Sweeney Todd, The Full Monty and the world premiere of Family Shots at HRTC), costume design; Human Race Resident Artist John Rensel (The Glass Menagerie, Crowns and Next to Normal for HRTC), lighting design; Human Race Resident Artist Jay Brunner (the world premiere of 26 Pebbles, The Glass Menagerie and Hail Mary! at HRTC) sound design; and Lexi Muller, production stage manager.
Family Ties reunites audiences with one of the most beloved television families of the 1980s. Twenty years have passed and Alex P. Keaton, now running for Congress, returns to his parents’ Columbus home with his sisters, Mallory and Jennifer, who are parents of their own. Gathered together once again, they relive some of the most important moments from their childhood—the growing pains, heartbreaks and reconciliations—with fondness and appreciation for simpler times that defined a generation.
Performance and special event information
Tickets for the preview performance of Family Ties on June 1 start at $35 for adults, $32 for seniors and $17.50 for students. For all performances June 2 – 25, single ticket prices start at $40 for adults, $37 for seniors and $20 for students. Prices vary depending on the day of the week and seating location. Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. The Human Race is offering a pair of discount ticket opportunities during the run of the show. A limited number of $12 and $25 side-area seats are available in advance for all performances. The Sunday, June 4 7:00 p.m. performance is “Sawbuck Sunday,” when any available seat can be purchased in person for just $10 at the Loft Theatre box office two hours prior to the show. Discounts are subject to availability and some restrictions apply.
All performances are at The Human Race’s home in the Metropolitan Art Center’s Loft Theatre, located at 126 North Main Street in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Show times for Family Ties are 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Performances on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings begin at 7:00 p.m., and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday matinees.
Tickets and performance information for Family Ties are available at www.humanracetheatre.org or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630, and at the Schuster Center box office.
Famed opera diva Maria Callas, one of the most gifted performers of the 20th century widely regarded as La Divina, comes alive through a satisfying lens at the Loft Theatre as seen in the Human Race Theatre Company’s production of Terrence McNally’s 1996 Tony Award-winning drama “Master Class.”
Fluidly directed by Scott Stoney and set in the mid-1970s, McNally’s work provides a compelling, fantasized look at a voice master class Callas conducts at the Julliard School, based on actual accounts from her 23 sessions held during the 1971-72 school year. The strengths of her remarkable voice long gone having retired in the early 1960s, Callas resorts to teaching to sustain her as she molds the next generation hoping to reach her level of acclaim. In her eyes, artistry, discovery, expression, meaning, intonation, history, truth, and commitment are paramount. While instructing three aspiring singers, she engagingly reflects on her humble beginnings, formidable lessons, supposed rivals, topsy-turvy romances, and lauded roles. But above all, she stresses the importance of education. “You’re not in a theater,” she warns at the outset. “You’re in a classroom.”
Mierka Girten, a Cincinnati native and Wright State University alumna, fittingly embodies the cool, stern, opinionated, and intimidating bluntness overflowing within Callas’ superiority and influence. Sophisticatedly dressed by costumer Hyun Sook Kim in sparkling black attire accented with strings of pearls, Girten, who looks the part and, at 47, is roughly the same age as Callas when she conducted her sessions, astutely relies on vocal dexterities and mannerisms to capture the role’s dramatic sensibilities. As an actress living with multiple sclerosis and its complications, she navigates the role gingerly by using the script and holding notes throughout. Nevertheless, her acting choices are far from precarious, particularly in scenes detailing Callas’ fascinating coaching and the time she recalls her affair with shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.
Wonderfully assisted by pianist/musical director Sean Michael Flowers as Emmanuel Weinstock, Girten shines opposite three fantastic vocalists. As confident tenor Anthony Candolino, the charming, sunny Blake Friedman, who appeared as tenor soloist in “Liebeslieder Walzer” with New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center, dynamically interprets a portion of Puccini’s “Tosca,” which Girten guides with delightfully descriptive beauty. Singing Bellini’s “Sonnambula,” Jeremey Carlisle Parker, a Dayton native and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music alumna, brings personable unease and reticence to her endearing portrayal of timid soprano Sophie De Palma. Recent Wright State University alumna Cassi Mikat, tremendous last season in “Sondheim on Sondheim,” delivers another vocally thrilling performance as the flummoxed yet determined soprano Sharon Graham. Sharon’s shrewd choice of the letter scene from Verdi’s “Macbeth” invigorates Callas to the point of dissecting the piece from entrance to epiphany while conjuring her stellar Lady Macbeth at La Scala.
Stoney, briefly appearing as a stagehand, also assembles a first-rate artistic team including scenic designer Scott J. Kimmins (whose 17th design for the Race exudes the proper look and feel of an academic studio), lighting designer John Rensel, sound designer Jay Brunner, and the aforementioned Friedman as dialect coach. Projections are effectively incorporated as well when Callas recalls her past.
“How can you have rivals when no one else can do what you do?,” Callas colorfully questions. McNally’s striking assessment of one of the world’s singular talents is an insightful guide to grasping her legacy and the music she adored.
“Master Class” continues through June 26 in the Loft Theatre of the Metropolitan Arts Center, 126 N. Main St., Dayton. Performances are 8 p.m. June 15-18 and 22-25; 2 p.m. June 19 and 26; and 7 p.m. June 14 and 21. The production runs 2 hours and 10 minutes including intermission. Tickets are $40 for adults, $37 for seniors, and $20 for students. A “While We’re On the Subject” post-show talkback featuring special guest Thomas Bankston, artistic director of the Dayton Opera, will be held following the June 19 matinee. For tickets or more information, call (937) 228-3630 or visit www.humanracetheatre.org or ticketcenterstage.com.
Those immensely engaging ladies of Truvy’s Beauty Shop tug the heart and tickle the funny bone as evidenced in the Human Race Theatre Company’s excellent production of Robert Harling’s touching 1987 comedy “Steel Magnolias,” the third presentation of the play the Race has produced in 26 years.
The gossipy chit-chat flows effortlessly and with great charm in this quaint, relatable tale set in Chinquapin, Louisiana over the course of two years concerning friendship, family, loyalty, illness, and the innate bonds of sisterhood. It’s hard to completely erase memories of the play’s 1989 film starring Sally Field, Julia Roberts and Dolly Parton among others, but director Heather N. Powell, in her mainstage Race debut, creates many winning moments of original authenticity sprinkled with bright and breezy comedy while accented by compelling tenderness and sincerity, particularly in the sentimental Act 2. Sure, there is a lot of fun to be had in the peppier Act 1, but Harling’s script shines when attention focuses on the hardships women face and aspire to endure. “I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special,” says Shelby, a young woman who sacrifices her health for the chance to become a mother. Shelby’s decision to give the gift of life is pivotal, but reiterates her greater desire as a woman to leave an indelible legacy on her own accord in spite of difficulty and the concerns of others.
Clothed in colorful, humorous ‘80s garb by Janet G. Powell and framed within scenic designer Eric Moore’s terrific and spacious era-appropriate set, Powell’s close-knit cast of six is a balanced mix of Race artists and newcomers. As bubbly Truvy, Christine Brunner, so grounded and loving, is a fantastic source of encouragement, support and sass. Maretta Zilic strikingly evolves from timidity to confidence as Truvy’s assistant Annelle, a young woman with a mysterious past who ultimately finds her purpose in religion. Julia Geisler brings endearing sweetness and believably weary undercurrents to her very appealing portrayal of Shelby. Carolyn Popp, as Shelby’s devoted mother M’Lynn, will have you completely teary-eyed in her passionate late Act 2 monologue detailing M’Lynn’s fury and pain from experiencing great loss. Patricia Linhart, chipper and affectionate, is lighthearted and sophisticated as former mayor’s wife Clairee. Caitlin Larsen, one of the finest chameleon actresses in the region, commands attention with hilariously earthy gusto as the hopelessly perturbed Ouiser, Clairee’s bickering buddy.
“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion,” says Truvy. As Harling’s heartfelt exploration of mothers and children as well as wives and husbands transpires at the Race, in a production astute enough to be emotionally sound without resorting to melodrama, it is clear how viable this story and its characters remain. After nearly 30 years these Southern Belles still impress with delicately resilient finesse.
“Steel Magnolias” continues through Nov. 29 in the Loft Theatre of the Metropolitan Arts Center, 126 N. Main St., Dayton. Performances are 8 p.m. Nov. 11-14, 18-20, and 27-28; 2 p.m. Nov. 15, 22, 28-29; 7 p.m. Nov. 10, 17, 24-25. Act One: 75 minutes; Act Two: 60 minutes. Tickets are $35-$50 for adults, $32-$46 for seniors, and $17.50-$25 for students. Prices vary depending on performance date. Select side-area seats available for $25 at all performances. For tickets or more information, call (937) 228-3630 or visit www.humanracetheatre.org or ticketcenterstage.com. Group sales: Contact Betty Gould at (937) 461-8295 or [email protected]
The Human Race proudly launches its 2015-2016 Eichelberger Loft Season with the smash hit The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical. With a book by Tony Award winner Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by Drama Desk Award winner David Yazbek, the hilarious and heartwarming story follows six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers who, in need of quick cash and low on prospects, come up with the outrageous idea to put on a strip act after seeing the local women’s wild enthusiasm for touring Chippendales dancers.
Short on time and with little talent or physical appeal, the gang promises their show will be better because they’ll go “the full monty” and bare it all! As they prepare for the big night, they learn to let go of their doubts and insecurities—and their clothes—in this hilarious adaptation of the hit 1997 film from Fox Searchlight Pictures. The Human Race Theatre Company’s production of The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical is directed by Resident Artist, Distinguished Professor of Musical Theatre at Wright State University and new Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame inductee Joe Deer, who has also directed Avenue Q, Big River, Lend Me a Tenor and It’s a Wonderful Life for The Human Race.
The preview performance of The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical is Thursday, September 10. Opening night is Friday, September 11. This production contains adult language and situations and, as the title implies, a bit of full frontal male nudity. It is definitely for mature audiences only.
Human Race President & Artistic Director Kevin Moore has been enamored with the show since he caught a preview performance before it opened on Broadway in October 2000. “From the minute that overture started,” he exclaims, “I was like, ‘Wow! This is hot. This is fun. This show is amazing. We have to find a way to do this.’” He acknowledges the large size of the show, with its numerous scene locations and set pieces, will be a challenge to stage in the intimate Loft Theatre. “We have a history of taking large musicals—Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the Roof, Mame—and adapting them to successfully fit the space,” says Moore. “Our audiences love it, we enjoy the challenge and we’ll do it again here with The Full Monty.” Aside from the title-revealing “dare to bare” moment, The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical offers audiences a great deal more than scantily-clad men. Moore praises its overarching subject matter, “It addresses parental devotion in how far a father would go for his son, how to find courage when there’s little to hope for, and the superficiality of body issues (this time, about men), and it does it all with genuine warmth, tremendous sincerity and outrageous humor.”
Joe Deer describes The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical as “an incredibly fun, high energy show. When people ask me what it’s about, I say, it’s like ‘Rocky meets Magic Mike.’” He admires the story about a group of men who are down on their luck, who manage to pull themselves together and redeem themselves and bring everyone up with them. “I love that,” he beams. “I think there is no better show for people in Dayton to experience right now because we know—as a city—what that’s like.” Deer sees the parallels between the personal and community-wide losses caused by the end of Buffalo’s steel industry in The Full Monty and the decades-long commercial and industrial losses felt by Dayton. “This was a mighty, mighty town and when the economy went south, when so many large businesses left, we were abandoned by people we had stood by.” He likens it to the show’s opening song, “Scrap.” “We felt pretty much abandoned like scrap. But what I love about this show is exactly what’s happening in Dayton right now,” he states. “We are being redeemed and lifting up. We are being revitalized in a whole new way.” Deer feels confident that audiences are going to come away from this show exuberant and recharged by its message and spirit.
Dionysia Williams, a Wright State University graduate and BalletMet Dance Academy faculty member, serves as the choreographer. Having performed in a previous production of The Full Monty, Williams describes her task as creating “character-driven” choreography for the show’s blue collar Buffalo citizens, “In the choreography, you’re going to see that the movement is very authentic as to who these characters are.” When discussing the show’s highly anticipated strip tease dance number, she says, “These guys will be slick. Maybe not Magic Mike slick, but in their own way.”
PERFORMANCE AND SPECIAL EVENT INFORMATION
Tickets for the preview performance of The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical on September 10 start at $35 for adults, $32 for seniors and $17.50 for students. For all performances September 11 – October 4, single ticket prices start at $40 for adults, $37 for seniors and $20 for students. Prices vary depending on the day of the week and seating location. Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. The Human Race is offering a pair of discount ticket opportunities. Side-area seats are available at all performances for $25 each, on sale two weeks prior to performance. The Sunday, September 13 7:00 pm performance is “Sawbuck Sunday”, when any available seat can be purchased in person for just $10 at The Loft Theatre box office two hours prior to the show. Discounts are subject to availability and some restrictions apply.
All performances are at the Metropolitan Art Center’s Loft Theatre, located at 126 North Main Street in downtown Dayton. Tickets and performance information on The Full Monty: The Broadway Musical are available at www.humanracetheatre.org or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630, and at the Schuster Center box office.
The Human Race Theatre Company, Dayton’s only professional regional theatre company, launches its 28th season next September with a richly diverse 6-play combination of productions on its Eichelberger Loft Series. “Selecting the season is one of the hardest, yet most exciting parts of my job,” says Producing Artistic Director Kevin Moore. “Thanks to a wonderful committee of readers, I am able to hand select just the right shows for our audience. It’s a season for everyone, with something old and something new; something funny, and something blue.”
The 2014-2015 season includes Miracle on South Division Street, a wholly divine intervention; Mame, a larger-than-life laugh riot; the world premiere of Family Shots, a still life in motion; Taking Shakespeare, a lesson in self-discovery; and Crowns, a celebration of spirit; as well as a special added production of the current Off-Broadway hit Buyer & Cellar, a diva lover’s delight.
The six plays perform in The Loft Theatre, The Human Race’s intimate 212-seat downtown performance space, located in the Metropolitan Arts Center at 126 North Main Street. The plays are scheduled for three-week runs and musicals are scheduled for four-weeks, with a number of associated special events: a Thursday night preview performance, preceded by the “Inside Track” discussion with the director; Friday Opening Night with a free post-show party with the cast in The Loft Lobby; Lite Fare at The Loft, a Tuesday night pre-show dining in The Loft Lobby, with food items provided by Citilites Restaurant; a “While We’re on the Subject” talkback following a Sunday matinee; and a Saturday night signed and audio-described performance opportunity.
THE 2014-2015 EICHELBERGER LOFT SERIES SEASON LINEUP
by Tom Dudzick
September 4 – 21, 2014
60 years ago, Grandpa Nowak had a vision of the Virgin Mary in his Buffalo, New York barbershop and had an unusual statue of her made to commemorate the miracle. For decades, his family has faithfully tended to his quirky shrine—a source of hope and inspiration in an otherwise run-down part of town. That is until a deathbed confession knocks them for a loop in this hilarious hit comedy that proves when it comes to local legends, there’s more than meets the eye.
Book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Based on the novel by Patrick Dennis, and the play Auntie Mame by Lawrence and Lee
October 30 – November 23, 2014
Mame Dennis is a free-wheeling eccentric without a care until she becomes the guardian of her ten-year-old nephew, Patrick. Now it’s up to her to open new windows and show the boy worlds he never knew existed. Through the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression, Mame teaches Patrick how to “live, live, live”—whether he’s willing or not. It’s the dazzling Broadway musical that proves life’s a banquet, featuring the classic songs “We Need A Little Christmas”, “It’s Today”, “Bosom Buddies” and, of course, “Mame”.
A World Premiere Production!
by Michael Slade
January 22 – February 8, 2015
Charming family patriarch Sam Baker lies in a hospital bed, recovering from an apparent heart attack, but his wife, Marsha, won’t stop making the crisis all about her—much to the dismay of their son, Aaron. The young photographer wonders why his parents even stay together while dealing with his own issues as a newlywed. Intimate, yet universal, this new work by Michael Slade (Under a Red Moon, Gingerbread Children) is a wildly funny and touching comedy about marriage—its joys, challenges and responsibilities—and what’s worth fighting for.
Buyer & Cellar
by Jonathan Tolins
February 12 – March 1, 2015
An out-of-work actor in Los Angeles, Alex takes on the oddest of odd jobs when he’s hired to work in the museum-like basement “mall” of an American entertainment icon’s lavish home. He spends his days alone and in awe, tending to a lifetime of countless mementos, until the lady of the house—the “Funny Girl” herself—appears and they strike up the unlikeliest of friendships. It’s an outrageously unbelievable comedy that will go down “like butta” as one talented performer takes on all the roles, even the dynamic “Babs”.
by John Murrell
April 16 – May 3, 2015
When a longtime, disillusioned college professor is asked to tutor her dean’s son through his freshman Shakespeare class, she finds it to be as much a test for her as it is for him. Although they seem to have nothing in common, as they explore the Bard’s Othello together, they learn more about each other—and themselves—than either is ready to admit. While they draw strength from the play, they come to understand what it means to live up to expectations.
adapted from the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry
June 11 – July 5, 2015
When troubled Brooklyn teenager Yolanda is sent to live with her church-going grandmother down South after the death of her brother, she finds healing in the personal stories of the ladies of the congregation and the hats that adorn their heads. Through time and space, their intimate histories create a soulful, joyous triumph of song, dance, culture and glorious “hattitude” in this powerhouse gospel musical like no other.
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND TICKETS
Subscriptions are available in 3-, 4- and 5-show packages, as well as in Flex Pass plans. Package prices range from $102 – $190, and discounted subscriptions are available for students. Both renewing and new subscribers may place their orders with Ticket Center Stage by calling (937) 228-3630 or by visiting the Schuster Center Box Office. New subscribers will be seated starting May 5. Single tickets to Miracle on South Division Street and Mame go on sale August 5, tickets to Family Shots go on sale October 28, tickets to Buyer & Cellar go on sale December 2, and tickets to Taking Shakespeare and Crowns go on sale February 10. Buyer & Cellar is not part of subscription packages, but subscribers can purchase tickets in advance when renewing or ordering a new subscription. Productions, performance dates and ticket prices are subject to change.
More ticketing and performance information on The Human Race Theatre Company’s 2014-2015 and 2013-2014 Loft seasons are available online or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630, and at the Schuster Center box office.
The Human Race Theatre Company was founded in 1986 and moved into the Metropolitan Arts Center in 1991, taking up residence at the 212-seat Loft Theatre. In addition to the Eichelberger Loft Season, The Human Race produces for the Victoria Theatre’s Broadway Series, the Musical Theatre Workshop series, and special event programming. The Human Race, under the direction of Producing Artistic Director Kevin Moore, also maintains education and outreach programs for children, teens and adults, as well as artist residencies in area schools, The Muse Machine In-School Tour, and summer youth programs. Human Race organizational support is provided by Culture Works, the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District, the Shubert Foundation, the Erma R. Catterton Trust Fund, the Jesse & Caryl Philips Foundation Fund for the Development of New Works, the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council, which helped fund this organization with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The 2013-2014 season sponsor is the Jack W. and Sally D. Eichelberger Foundation of the Dayton Foundation, with additional support from Jim and Enid Goubeaux, KeyBank, the Sam Levin Foundation, Premier Health, Heidelberg Distributing Company and Morris Home Furnishings.
The Human Race Theatre Company’s refreshingly intimate take on Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s timeless 1964 musical “Fiddler on the Roof” is an enormously pleasant experience inside its cozy Loft Theatre.
Director Kevin Moore deftly and breezily swaps the sweeping heft typically associated with the material for a smaller, character-conscious approach ripe with immediacy and emotional resonance. His communal, campfire-esque concept, carried out by an excellently cohesive cast of 25 including four musicians who double in smaller roles, unquestionably allows the audience to feel as if they’re right in the heart of the tiny village of Anatevka circa 1905. In fact, when one resident wistfully sung about his quaint surroundings while seated in the aisle next to me, I nearly joined in. After all, by that point, this faith-based community grounded in tradition yet rocked by unexpected transition became so relatable that genuine concern for their future well-being was inescapable. But that’s what makes “Fiddler” so special and practically bulletproof as one of the best musicals ever created. You absolutely care about the characters, specifically as stakes are raised in the darker Act 2 marvelously contrasting the sunny prologue bursting with promise, purpose and possibility.
Drew Pulver is a wonderfully earthy, credibly conflicted everyman in the plum role of poor milkman Tevye, the amiable father of five daughters and the popular glue that holds Anatevka (and this musical) together. As Tevye copes with a whirlwind of change and treasures his chit-chats with God, Pulver’s easygoing, mildly contemporary persona and outstanding vocals (“If I Were a Rich Man” doesn’t disappoint) propel his multifaceted characterization. Still, the volatile anger he displays when Tevye dismisses his daughter Chava for wanting to marry outside the faith is a significant revelation. Chills arise as Tevye is suddenly caught in an utterly disgusted, nearly abusive frame of mind unlike any production of “Fiddler” I have seen, including Canada’s Stratford Festival three months ago. The dynamic Rachel Coloff, who appeared in David Leveaux’s mammoth 2004 Broadway revival of “Fiddler,” shines with great sternness and sharp timing as Tevye’s headstrong wife Golde. Coloff is particularly appealing in the loving, temperamental rapport she establishes with Pulver beautifully highlighted in their poignant rendition of “Do You Love Me?”
Christine Zavakos (Tzeitel), Charity Farrell (Hodel), Ashley Campana (Chava), Abby E. Cates (Shprintze) and Hannah Sayer and Jordan Vandersluis (sharing the role of Bielke) are delightful as Tevye and Golde’s children. The sweet, gentle Zavakos, the radiant, vocally stunning Farrell and the intriguing, introverted Campana enjoyably join forces early in the tale for a fun, graceful “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” that typifies their close-knit sisterhood. This winning trio also has engaging partners in Drew Helton, Josh Kenney and Adam Brown, respectively. Helton, a recent Wright State University graduate possessing geeky charm and finding delicious nuances in the script as timid tailor Motel, notably delivers a bubbly, lyric-fueled “Miracle of Miracles” simultaneously warming the heart of Zavakos and the audience. Kenney, a real find as outspoken student Perchik, is fittingly intellectual and fiery while perfectly matched with Farrell. As Fyedka, Brown’s charisma and skillful dancing is a joy.
Colorfully authentic, fully realized performances are also given by Caitlin Larsen (Yente/Grandma Tzeitel), Saul Caplan (Lazar Wolf), K.L. Storer (Rabbi), Matty Rickard (Mendel), Ryan Heinrich (Mordcha), Eric Byrd (Vanya), Joshua Silver Hughes (Yussel), Adam Lendermon (Sasha), Jeff Sams (Constable), and Linda June Snyder (Shaindel). Larsen’s comedic expertise, Caplan’s joviality, Sams’ cool, imposing demeanor, and Rickard, Byrd, Hughes and Lendermon’s splendid execution of the iconic “Bottle Dance” (one of many crisp, spirited routines marvelously reproduced by Chris Crowthers from Jerome Robbins’ original choreography) are noteworthy.
The production’s superb ambience is heightened by Dick Block’s strikingly detailed set evoking religion, John Rensel’s proficient lighting expertly marking shifts in tone, Tony Ray Hicks’ attractive costumes (originally designed for a 2009 “Fiddler” national tour starring Topol), Nathan D. Dean’s first-rate sound design (“Tevye’s Dream,” featuring Campana as the eerie Fruma-Sarah, is a spooky delight), and music director/guitarist Jay Brunner’s (Nachum) terrific klezmer band (particularly giving Farrell’s gorgeous rendition of “Far From the Home I Love” a tender acoustic flair) featuring Brent Eresman (Seth/clarinet), Joel Greenberg (Zev/mandolin), and brilliant, expressive violinist George Abud (Fiddler). Janet Yates Vogt provides vocal music direction.
It’s no surprise “Fiddler” has endured for generations. The Human Race keeps the musical’s tuneful, meaningful legacy alive with stripped down potency accenting the fact that it’s never too late to reexamine a classic.
“Fiddler on the Roof” continues through Nov. 30 at the Loft Theatre, 126 N. Main St., Dayton. Performances are Nov. 8-9, Nov. 13-16, Nov. 20-23, Nov. 27, 29-30 at 8 p.m.; Nov. 10, 17, 24 and 30 at 2 p.m.; and Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. The Nov. 12 and 19 performances are sold out. Act One: 95 minutes; Act Two: 50 minutes. Tickets are $21-$45. Call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit www.humanracetheatre.org.There will also be a special Sing-a-Long “Fiddler” concert Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. Song lyrics will be provided. All tickets are $18.
MostMetro.com wants has a pair of tickets to share with our readers. If you’d like to see the show on us, like this story, and tell us inthe comments why we should send you, then fill out the form below. We’ll announce our winner on Sunday![form 55 “DMM Contest Entry – Generic”]
There are a lot of things closing, opening and running this weekend. Plenty of things to see and even some good fare to take the family, including Dad! Theatre tickets make an awesome Father’s Day gift. Does he like humor? Music? Laughing? Everything Dayton offers up this weekend features all three! Check it out!
Closing This Weekend!
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
The Dayton Playhouse
The Skinny: Something familiar, something peculiar. Something for everyone! A comedy tonight! Come see the Dayton Playhouse take on one of Stephen Sondheim’s funniest and best loved pieces. A farcical love story taking place in a fictionalized idea of Ancient Rome. A father-son dynamic is at the heart of this piece! Perfect for Father’s Day! So take your dad to see the matinee and then buy him Chinese Buffet for dinner afterwards! Or maybe that’s just my family tradition?
Dates: Closing Sunday, 6/16
Tickets: Please visit the Dayton Playhouse website at www.daytonplayhouse.com
Currently In Production!
The Skinny: Don’t let the puppets and the “Sesame Street” skin tones confuse you; THIS IS NOT FOR KIDS. Avenue Q is a riotously funny, politically incorrect and downright raunchy Tony Award-winning musical about recent college grad Princeton and his funny, sometimes furry, friends who live at the very end of New York’s (in)famous Alphabet City. Featuring songs like, “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist,” “It Sucks To Be Me,” and of course that battle cry of the internet age: “The Internet Is For Porn!” seriously this show is NOT FOR KIDS. But it is for adults who like to laugh really hard.
Dates: Through June 29th.
Tickets: Please visit the Human Race Theatre Company website at www.humanracetheatre.org. Have we mentioned that this production is NOT FOR KIDS?
The Sound Of Music
The Skinny: Ok, this one is safe for all the family…unless they’re offended by cherubic singing siblings and Nazi-fighting nuns! This is the well-loved classic, and a perennial crowd pleaser. Join The Captain, Maria and all 7 children as they sing, dance and, eventually, cross the Alps.
Dates: Through 6/30
Tickets: Please visit the La Comedia website at www.lacomedia.org
Opening this Weekend!
Legally Blonde The Musical
The Skinny: To quote its opening number: “Oh my god, oh my god you guys!”, it’s another production of Legally Blonde! This charming and enjoyable musical (based on the movie) takes the stage now at Beavercreek Community Theatre. Come join the plucky Elle Woods as she follows her “true love” to Harvard Law. There she gets a taste of hard work, the real world, and maybe learns to rely on her smarts more than her, well, blondeness.
Date: Opening 6/21 and running through 6/30
Tickets: Please visit the Beavercreek Community Theatre website at www.bctheatre.com
Just a heads up, all the shows for FutureFest weekend have been cast and have begun, or will be soon be beginning, rehearsal! Exciting! For more information about the shows and about Dayton’s own FutureFest, a nationally known festival of new works, go to www.daytonplayhouse.com and click the “FutureFest” tab.