Fiddler on the Roof

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

Directed by Adrienne Doucette

Through Nov. 21 Ron Spencer dons drag for the latest Film Noir offering at Theatre on the Square.So, if you are thinking, “Another Fiddler?” well, I have to admit that’s what I was thinking, too. But after seeing the show, I have to say that it was worth seeing again — even for the umpteenth time. Beef & Boards presents a lovely, touching rendition of the musical classic.

The cast is awash in lovely voices. The opening number, “Tradition,” comes in strong from the ensemble, and it sets the tone for the rest of the show. Favorite songs are done with panache, such as a lovely “Matchmaker” and a fun rendition of “The Dream.”

Taking center stage as Tevye is Douglas E. Stark. What he lacks in songcraft he makes up for in character. Loveable and charming, his Tevye is the quintessential poppa, with heart. His wife Golde, well-played by Joellyn Young, is a persevering woman who complements Stark’s Tevye.

The daughters that sing — Pamela Shandrow as Tzeitel, Kristen J. Smith as Hodel and Catherine M. Peterson as Chava — are exceptional, also. And Chava’s match, Dominic Sheahan-Stahl as Fyedka, wows the audience with an elongated and well-pitched note in “To Life.”

The show is enchantingly done and energetic — even more impressive because I saw it Sunday night, after the cast had already run through it for the matinee performance.

A classic well-done is worth seeing again — and it’s family-friendly fare. B&B’s Fiddler will run through Nov. 21; 9301 N. Michigan Road, 872-9664.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

Theatre on the Square

Directed by Ron Spencer

Through Oct. 30

Take it as a spoof or on its own, but Troy Longest’s adaptation of the 1962 black and white movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is just strange.

Theatre on the Square annually features its artistic director, Ron Spencer, in drag for its Film Noir offering, and this year he returns to the part that started it all: washed-up child actress Baby Jane Hudson.

To re-create the feel of the movie, the set and actors are awash in grey tones — although why some actors aren’t sporting the white face paint is a mystery. The set itself is quite an accomplishment. Coming in, the walls are draped in black fabric, but the sheets come down to reveal a two-level set with swinging doors for scenery changes. Kudos to TOTS and Michael Swinford for creating a great space for the action.

Constance Macy also returns to play opposite Spencer as Jane’s famous sister Blanche. Both do solid work — almost too solid. Traditionally, the Film Noir offerings are send-ups of the movie being taken on, but here, you actually leave the theater without feeling like you have seen a comedy per se. Sure, jokes are thrown in, and some of the best are when Spencer ad libs, but overall, and especially in the first act, things seem remarkably dry. The dark atmosphere of the story overwhelms the intended ridiculous situations — even with Spencer’s makeshift breasts getting tortured repeatedly. A little more jesting would have been welcome.

Nonetheless, it is a well-done show. TOTS, located at 627 Massachusetts Ave., will run Whatever Happened to Baby Jane through Oct. 30; call 637-8085.


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