On Sunday I went to see one of the last plays of the 2012/2013 season at The Orpheum Theater in Downtown Phoenix. The play was “Fiddler on the Roof,” an oft-performed play, but a new one to me. The play was presented at The Orpheum through Music Theatre International.
Fiddler on the Roof is a musical, a genre I am usually averse to. However, with this play, the songs were my second favorite part, right behind the occasional sharp quip. Although I greatly enjoyed the songs, I often found myself straining to hear the singers over the orchestra. Unfortunately, on some of the songs, the sound quality was so poor — in that one actor’s microphone was turned up too far, or the orchestra completely drowned out the voices — that I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, and on one song in particular, I actually cringed because the actress’ voice was so shrill and loud.
Now despite the sound being off at times, the play went off without a hitch and received quite the standing ovation at curtain fall. I, of course joined in the standing and the clapping, but I was left feeling a bit less enthusiastic about the play as I was going into it.
I think I just didn’t expect the storyline to be so outdated. Sure, religion is a core theme, and such a motif never really goes out of style, but another major part of the play was the roles of the separate genders. The production even starts off with a song about “tradition” in which the men say their job is to make the money and protect the family, and the women come out to say their job is to cook, care for the children, keep a clean house for their husbands, etc. I understand that this is a part of this classic story that has been performed for decades, I’m just saying it was a little off-putting for them to start out so boldly.
One of my other favorite parts about going to see this play was finally seeing The Orpheum Theater up-close and personal. I’ve always admired the historical building from afar, but never had the chance to check out the inside. It’s pretty impressive! While waiting for the play to start, I took a stroll around the theater. The highlights include the ceiling, which was either painted or just lighted in a beautiful color of blue, and — get ready — the bathroom, complete with velvety red carpet and chairs, and personal vanity areas. I’ve been to a few theaters in my time, and a few more fancy bathrooms, but this one is my favorite, (though I may have lower standards, judging by the public restrooms I usually frequent at ASU).
So, though “Fiddler on the Roof” was fun at times, what I really enjoyed was the atmosphere at The Orpheum, so next time they show a play that you have any interest in, I would highly suggest grabbing some tickets. Or, you know, just take a tour or something.
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