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Fiddler on the Roof as presented by Glencullen Dundrum Musical & Dramatic Society

GLENCULLEN MUSICAL SOCIETY DUNDRUM “FIDDLER ON THE ROOF” 

19th – 23rd March 2024

Adjudication Performance 19th March.


The Mill Theatre Dundrum was the location of this performance and Mr Liam Corrigan greeted me with a warm welcome in the Foyer, offering a tour of the Theatre. His insights into the Theatre's history, capacity, and personal experiences with the Society and its shows over the years were genuinely fascinating, leaving me even more intrigued about the performance to come. Thank you for your time and attention at the interval also. It was a pleasure. The Front of House team did an excellent job ensuring the audience was comfortable and well cared for. They were friendly and helpful, guiding the audience to their seats quickly and efficiently. 


The Director of this production was Sean Mac Mathuna. From the outset there were areas that needed so much more attention. I love attention to detail and sadly there were just too many things that could not be ignored. Missing props, character accents, rehearsal, lack of confidence of performers together with character development and the ability to show the various emotions, moods, and overall portrayal. Fiddler is an emotional rollercoaster and it is so important to get these emotions across through significant principal rehearsal . I felt that maybe principals were left to develop their own versions which leaves direction vulnerable. I would have liked to see more depth, emotion, and pain in the more heart-wrenching scenes, such as Chava’s leaving with Fyedka, and many of Tevye’s emotional scenes whether they be anger, ignorance, fun, sadness etc and, most definitely, some more attention to the set and the props. I understand that sometimes there aren’t enough men to play a scene and the ladies of the ensemble must be used. However, I simply couldn’t understand how they could appear with what were fun party beards that looked awful. Makeup beards would have looked better if you couldn’t source more authenticity. Overall, Mr Mac Mathúna’s directorial efforts were reasonable and contributed to a good production for the most part. The opening scene, “Tradition,” was a good start in vision and musicality. I understand that Mr Mac Mathuna that you are at the beginning of your Directing career and I look forward very much to see your development in the future. Keep at it. Congratulations on directing a very tough show with so many elements to oversee. 


The choreographer was Ms Nicole McDonald. The choreography was very good, with some lovely scenes beginning with the opening number, “Tradition.” It has gorgeous movement and beautiful lighting. The cast executed your sometimes intricate and engaging dance routines, adding an extra layer to the story. Ms McDonald’s choreography was creative and imaginative, and it was clear Ms McDonald that both you and the cast had put in a lot of hard work into the routines. I loved all of your choreography, Ms McDonald. You painted pretty pictures with lovely movement and a lovely opening to the show in dance. I specifically mention the “Bottle Dance,” which was simply excellent. Choreography was a highlight of this show the whole way through, from beginning to end, and I enjoyed every movement you created here, Ms McDonald. Your Choreography played a massive part in the story and the performance. Wonderful. 


The Musical Director was Mr Barry Power. The musical direction of Fiddler on the Roof was impressive, with the orchestra's performance seamlessly blending into the rest of the production. Mr Power did an excellent job of conveying the emotional depth of the score, and the Orchestra and its lovely sound beautifully complimented the cast's vocal performance. The orchestra's accompaniment was beautifully delivered, with standout numbers such as "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" that left a lasting impact on the audience and me. Overall, Mr Power, your talent and expertise were apparent in every note, and the audience was treated to a truly memorable musical experience. Very well done. Bravo. 


Mr Peter O’Brien was the stage manager. This show moved at a good pace, and changes were on time. The set design was simple and fixed with scenes being defined by small additional sets being brought on stage between individual scenes. Some more attention was needed for several scenes including Sabbath Prayer and To Life in conjunction albeit with Props. The lighting design was good in general, with colour and shadow adding depth and emotion to the performance. However, at times, the lighting felt inconsistent, with some scenes being too dimly lit, making it difficult to see the performers. Sound was well-executed, with sound effects and music adding much needed emotion to the show. However, the sound sometimes felt too loud or unbalanced, making it difficult to hear the performers' voices. 


Overall, the Set Design, Lighting, and Sound for Fiddler on the Roof were acceptable but could have been so much better. Opportunities to shine were missed. I just get a feeling that rehearsal or preparation time wasn’t enough. I could be wrong. 



The costumes were in most part good, showcasing some attention to detail and adding a layer of authenticity to the performance. Well done to costume designer Catherine Coventry. Each costume was tailored to the characters and in keeping with the time and the era. Furthermore, the makeup and hair, overall, were applied with great expertise, highlighting each performer's features and enhancing their performance. The makeup was subtle and natural, contributing to the depth and emotion of the characters. Under the heading of Hair, I must comment on the beards that were so essential and looked dreadful. As mentioned earlier there were, I believe, a few women wearing them (maybe a shortage of men), but they were so wrong in visuals, and a serious error was made here in allowing these to a) be worn and b) appear on stage to make a woman look like a man. They were the stuff of school children in their design and look, and I was stunned to see them on some members of the Chorus. Yente's black handbag was way too modern. However, I am aware this is an amateur production, but attention to detail was seriously lacking in this area and in the props. There were no liquids on stage at all , no food , no vodka for “To Life” etc Scenes were essentially mimed. I felt distracted in these areas as the show became un- believable without them. This whole area required so much more time and planning. 


Brian O’Gorman played Tevye. Having seen Mr. O’Gorman in many roles that have suited him beautifully in the past, many times over, I genuinely did feel that maybe this role was not the best for him to showcase his talent as an actor and a singer. Because that, indeed, is what he is. I felt that he hadn’t had the direction required to bring out the best of his acting ability and consequently Mr. O’Gorman was not his usual confident self in this role. If I Were a Rich Man, a number known worldwide, was lovely, and Mr O’Gorman sang it well, but It was sung more like a gorgeous ballad rather than a showstopper. I didn’t sense that shine and talent that bounced from the stage I am used to with Mr O’Gorman. There was lovely rapport, however, with Golde and his daughters. The relationships with the daughters was a highlight as was the dream sequence where I got to see a lot more of what I had looked forward to from Mr O’Gorman. You sang this very well, with some great acting and a much stronger vocal. Very well done on the dream sequence. It was very good. There were some fun moments and good comedic moments. I will add that it really doesn’t help a principal actor when so much of their portrayal utilises props that just were not there on opening night and I genuinely felt sorry for you Mr O’Gorman. It was opening night and nerves also maybe played a part as well as lack of rehearsal. 


Mary Beth Jennings played Golde's part. A good performance throughout, and acted with skill considering the aforementioned issues. Ms Jennings had a lovely stage presence, great acting skills, unique style and interpretation of the character, and her accent added an extra layer of authenticity to the performance. Golde's commanding voice was particularly notable. A highlight again was the dream sequence with Tevye. The chemistry between both of you as well as acting and singing was very good in this scene. 


Lyndsey McKiernan played the part of Tzeitel. Ms McKiernan’s performance in this production was delightful. Her lovely voice, strong stage presence, and promising acting skills, combined with her unique style and interpretation of the character, added some welcomed joy to the production. A genuinely lovely, vibrant, sassy character, and a leader with her father wrapped around her little finger. I enjoyed the character you created in this role, Ms McKiernan. Well done.


Eloise Broderick played Hodel. Ms Broderick’s lovely voice, strong stage presence, very good acting skills, and unique style and interpretation of the character added a layer of authenticity to the performance, and I enjoyed your performance. Ms Broderick captured the essence of Hodel's character beautifully, and this worked well with her stage sisters to create a believable bond between you all. It's a fantastic role for you. 


Lauren Dooley played Chava's part—a delightful role. Ms Dooley your lovely voice, strong stage presence, and promising acting skills, combined with her unique style and interpretation of the character, added a layer of authenticity to your performance. Your performance captured the essence of Chava's character, and you worked well with your stage sisters to create a believable bond between the three of you, both vocally and in acting. Your love for Fyedka was so real and powerfully and dramatically played by both of you. 


Aidan Byrne played the role of Motel the Tailor. Mr Byrne gave a charming and endearing performance. He portrayed Motel's awkwardness and shyness in a relatable and genuine manner, making his character likable. His singing voice was pleasant, and his "Miracle of Miracles" performance was a great moment in the show. There were a few instances where his performance needed more direction in developing the character, particularly in scenes where Motel was meant to be more assertive. Overall, Mr Byrne delivered a solid performance as Motel and brought a lot of heart to the role.


Peter Manning played Perchik’s role with a confident and assured stage presence. He brought a strong sense of intellect and idealism to the character, engaging his performance. His singing voice was powerful, and his "Now I Have Everything" performance was a highlight. In one or two moments, I felt his delivery felt stiff, particularly in scenes where Perchik was meant to be more emotional. Overall, Mr Manning, however, gave a commendable performance as Perchik and brought a lot of depth to the role with a lovely quality singing voice. I’m sure we will see and hear a lot more from you. 


Conor Delahunty played Fyedka and gave a captivating and nuanced performance. He brings a sense of mystery and intrigue to the character, making his interactions with Chava compelling. His dancing was excellent, and his movement in "To Life" was a standout moment in that scene under extenuating circumstances. Mr Delahunty delivered a strong performance as Fyedka and brought a lot of depth to the role. 


Carmel Tubbert played the part of Yente The Matchmaker. Despite being very old (not Ms. Tubbert, Yente!) Yente's performance was very engaging. Ms. Tubbert moved around the stage with lovely moments that added depth and character to the story. Her unique acting style meant that Ms. Tubbert's performance worked well with the other characters to create a believable bond between them that was both lovely and comical at times. Still, overall, a lovely role played so very well, and you were a delightful Yente.


Lazar Wolf, played by Declan Ruddy, Avram played by David O’Hara, and the Constable played by Padraic Brady were very significant characters in this story. Each played these roles well and did an excellent job bringing their characters to life and contributing to the production's and the story’s success. Lazar Wolf (Declan Ruddy) was portrayed with boisterous energy, Avram (David O’Hara) with authentic nuance, and the Constable (Padraic Brady) with authoritative menace instilling fear and resentment amongst the villagers. David’s O’Hara’s solo in particular in “to Life” was sung very well with a lovely tone to his voice. Together, they added depth and dimension to the story. Mendel played by Chris O’Connor, Mordcha played by Rob Coventry and Rabbi played by Philip Coventry were also essential characters in the story, and the actors who played them did an excellent job of bringing their roles to life. Mendel was portrayed with fun and wit, Mordcha with fantastic comedic timing, and Rabbi with a warm and wise presence. I enjoyed your performances gentlemen. Well done. 


Amy Deane's Shprintze was a lovely character, and Bridget Cloonan's Bielke also gave a very concise and strong performance. They had lovely facial expressions and two lovely cameo roles that were played very well. 


Ms Maria O’Laughlin played the role of Fruma Sarah and delivered a chilling, haunting, and memorable performance that left a lasting impression on the audience in the scene

Grandma Tzeitel was played by Louise Culleton. A feisty and opinionated character and always speaks her mind. Ms. Culleton brought a lot of humour and wit to the show and did an excellent job of bringing out a lovely, sassy personality. Overall, Fruma Sarah and Grandma Tzeitel were portrayed very well. Well done ladies. 


I liked the Chorus very much. You produced a lovely sound with lovely harmonies and movement, as mentioned in the Choreography numbers. “Tevye’s Dream” and “Sunrise Sunset” were gorgeous and a highlight of the show. There was a lovely cohesion here in this Chorus, and the sound, feeling, and emotion in the songs, particularly mentioned above, added beautifully to the story. I thought you were a great Chorus and can only commend you on a job well done with a lovely sound. 


This was in general a hard show to sit through when such basic things affected the overall performances and authenticity. I understand it was opening night but each night is as important as the other. The show just was not ready. I genuinely felt for characters involved with the props that simply were not there. So much talent but I could feel the discomfort of some of the more experienced principals emanating from the stage and that in turn affected me as an audience member. This looked like a very strong group who I am sure has immense potential and as experience is gained especially in direction to cover all bases, the results will very quickly materialise. I would recommend maybe a show that is more light for future immediate productions. 


I wish you all the very best in your future productions and thank you for the fabulous welcome. 


Caroline Daly Jones 

Sullivan Adjudicator 2023/24


Photographer : Darragh Carroll




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