‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ in the middle of the forest | REVIEW

“Fiddler on the Roof” proves to be an energetic and charming performance in the hands of its two dozen person cast, which includes a number of actors culled from the Bellevue College drama department.

Doug Knoop as Tevye (foreground) and Bianca Raso as Chava in 'Fiddler on the Roof' at Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater.

In Fall City, hidden at a particularly sharp corner and behind a dozen potholes of Southeast David Powell Road, sits the entrance.

Travel another half-mile up increasingly narrow hillside road and you find yourself in the main clearing at the epicenter of 95 acres of forest across the river from the Snoqualmie Falls. From here, it’s another brisk walk through the woods to your destination, the entire reason for your day-trip out into the wilderness: an outdoor production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater and Family Park is closed to the general public for most of the year, except for six weekends when the private nonprofit park puts on its annual summer stock production to fulfill its mission of promoting the theatrical arts. Doubtless, the park’s directors would hope to wow some new memberships out of the audience, but it’s a soft sell built on a foundation of merit: they offer nothing more than an inexpensive, well-produced show and barbecue dinner in a wilderness setting.

“Fiddler on the Roof” proves to be an energetic and charming performance in the hands of its two dozen person cast, which includes a number of actors culled from the Bellevue College drama department. From the moment they “fade in,” running short vignettes of life in Anatevka before the show truly begins, to Tevye’s final farewell, the cast effectively fills their low-tech setting — without dramatic lighting, set changes or microphones — with the personality and atmosphere of Jewish Russia in the early 20th Century.

The musical — now 50 years old — is well known: Jewish patriarch Tevye (Doug Knoop) marries off his three eldest daughters and stands by as each departs further and further from traditions he holds dear. Meanwhile, the czarist government steadily makes life more difficult for Anatevka’s Jewish inhabitants.

Knoop plays jovial and exasperated well, putting Tevye forward as a person who, despite his scruples, is too naturally flexible not to bend with the changing winds. This makes him likeable, but it also acts to his detriment later in the story — when Knoop is called upon to put his foot down, it lands like a feather. When he’s burdened with advance knowledge of pogroms, he seems to shrug it off with the same gravitas given to a “past due” letter.

In a cast full of strong voices, Bianca Ruso and Angela Snyder — playing Tevye’s daughters Chava and Hodel, respectively — stand out from the first bars of “Matchmaker” onward.

From the sidelines, John Tembreull and Robin Weakland charm as Lazar Wolf and the matchmaker Yente. The actors lend character to their characters, particularly when both are stung by the changing traditions in Anatevka.

For audience members who take the half-day to separate themselves from civilization, the Snoqualmie Falls cast doesn’t disappoint: they take that separation and use it to turn the forest, briefly, into a bubble of unreality.

Washington state doesn’t exist here; Anatevka does.

 

 

More in Life

Interlake High Chamber Orchestra earns perfect score

The students’ performance earned landmark evaluation at the World Strides Heritage Festival.

Local students among top 10 at state Geographic Bee

A Bellevue student won first place while a Bothell student won sixth place.

Photo courtesy of Seattle Humane
Seattle Humane to take pets from Kauai Humane Society

The shelter aims to alleviate overcrowding after disastrous flooding on the island of Kauai.

Bellevue Library opens ideaX Makerspace hub

Google.org grant helps KCLS Foundation deliver STEAM programs to under-served youth in King County.

Newport High School presents ‘The Laramie Project’

Newport High School’s Drama Program will perform the production on April 20, 21, 27 and 28.

Photo courtesy of the city of Bellevue
Applications accepted for ‘Day of Sharing and Caring’

Local volunteers help local residents in need of home maintenance.

Bellevue to host next Cultural Conversations April 24

A neighborhood conference is also planned for April 21.

Photos courtesy of Newport and Interlake High School
Local High School jazz bands earn honors

Newport and Interlake High School jazz bands earn top honors at University of Montana Jazz Festival.

Courtesy photo
ExtraSlice organizes Bellevue Tech Expo

The expo is the largest tech event in the Pacific Northwest.

Most Read