Following hard on the ruby-encrusted heels of Broadway’s greatest 21st-century’s phenom Wicked, the Pantages returns to this equally significant Broadway hit from the middle of the last century (nearly a decade as longest-running musical) in a spectacular revival. Sholem Aleichem’s tale of life in a Jewish shtetl under the thumb of Russia’s czar, dramatized by Joseph Stein with a glorious score and lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick respectively, still generates laughs and other emotions. This production remains loyal to Jerome Robbins’ original staging, with expertly re-created direction and choreography by Sammy Dallas Bayes. You won’t find any flying or other magical machinery so expected in contemporary Broadway fare. It feels like time-traveling 50 years back — yet there’s no sense of museum theater here. Leading the way is, of course, Topol, the Israeli star who first played the lead tole of Tevye on London’s West End when he was far too young, then in the 1971 film at the perfect age, now in this “final tour,” when he is too old but still enormously effective as the faithful but constantly God-questioning milkman who sees his Jewish traditions and way of life falling apart. Upon Topol’s first entrance he is greeted as a rock star — but the production doesn’t rest on his laurels alone; it earns its standing ovation from the merits of the ensemble, musicians and designers. Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 7:30 p.m.; through August 9. (213) 365-3500.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: July 21. Continues through Aug. 9, 2009
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