It’s just the most beautiful score, says musical director Sarah Travis.
“It is one of my favourites. It makes me cry sometimes, even in the really joyous songs. It really pulls. I do find the whole thing very moving.”
You can judge for yourself when Fiddler On The Roof – starring Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky in the ’70s TV series Starsky & Hutch) – reaches the Hawth in Crawley on its UK tour (November 19-23).
If you were lucky enough to catch the show in Southampton at the start of the run in September, you will certainly want to see it again.
As Sarah says, the score is wonderful, with songs including If I Were a Rich Man, Matchmaker Matchmaker, Sunrise Sunset and To Life – all enriching a powerful tale.
Tevye (Paul Michael Glaser), the local milkman in his village of Anatevka, has always stuck by his traditions, but suddenly his headstrong daughters decide that they want to marry for love rather than accept whatever Yente the Matchmaker comes up with.
Tevye loves his daughters but has to convince his wife, and the villagers, that their decisions are actually falling in with tradition – not an easy thing to do, but if anyone can do it, the wily Tevye can.
But all around him, his way of life, his beloved traditions, are under threat.
A great story... and a monumental one to stage, with the added complication, for Sarah, that this particular production certainly isn’t conventional in the music department.
There is no orchestra in the pit with a conductor waving a stick; instead the cast are actor-musicians who deliver everything from the stage.
“They do everything. They are our band.”
Sarah worked closely from the start with director and choreographer Craig Revel Horwood: “I go in with a palette at the start, and Craig and I sit and unravel the jigsaw. Craig is a very instinctive choreographer.
“He will listen to what I have scored, and he will say that he wants the clarinettist to do a dance here, and so I will move that clarinet, and so it goes on.
“It really is like doing a jigsaw. It develops in a very organic way... or I will say ‘No, you can’t have that person dancing there’.
“But we have worked on so many shows together that we understand each other, and we have cast actors that are multi-skilled, singers that can dance and act and play as well. There are a couple of sequences in the show that are very movement based, particularly the wedding sequence. They are playing and singing and dancing all at the same time. We are asking them to be quite bold and just to go for it. It’s a very exciting process.
“It can be quite torturous at times. I will do a music call and they are all relaxed, and they are learning what they have to learn, and then quite suddenly they will to do it on their feet. But so often it helps, when you are learning something, to physicalize it, that when your leg is out there, you play a G flat or whatever!
“But there is a wonderful moment in week four or five of rehearsal when through repetition everything starts to pull together. Everyone is in the same room.
“Whether they are playing a triangle or leading a song, they are all part of the dramatic moment.”