Slice of Life: Off-Broadway Theater in the Corn Belt

Over the five years during which my son has been a grad student in Ames, Iowa, we have attended many theater performances together. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us, a delayed birthday treat for him that I can also take part in each year. We both enjoy theater, especially musical theater, and Stephens Auditorium on the Iowa State Campus offers up some great shows and concerts.

Over the years, a few of the productions we’ve seen are:

The Brian Setzer Orchestra (a Christmas time concert)

Vince Gill (in concert)

Rent, the Musical

Motown the Musical

Believe – Carol King Musical

Last night we saw the classic musical, Fiddler on the Roof as the production starts its off-Broadway tour once again. It was a very enjoyable show. It wasn’t the best of what we’ve seen but still, the cast, and crew did a great job. There are mixed reviews on this theater production but we really cannot complain about what we saw. I expected the main character, “the papa” or Tevye, the milkman, to be more burly but I think he put his own mark on the role and did a great job – he also seemed to very much enjoy the character. The rest of the cast was less remarkable but I was enamored of Motel, the tailor, and how he portrayed his character’s growth during the story. There were also some great comic relief moments provided by the matchmaker and even a whole dream sequence scene that provides some extended laughter.

We anticipated the famed bottle dance and it met our expectations. It was amazing that the actors can dance with bottles on their heads. I, personally, really enjoyed hearing the beloved songs that were popular in my youth, after the movie of the same name became famous. I cannot tell you how many times I played Sunrise – Sunset on my flute over my early school years.

All in all, it was another enjoyable night of theater at Stephens Auditorium in Ames. The cast played to a packed house who were visibly pleased to be back in the theater enjoying a night out. I asked my son at breakfast today what his favorite production over the years we’ve been going to shows together. His favorite musical was Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. And, his overall favorite event or best production we saw together was the Brian Setzer Orchestra Concert. My favorite was Motown the Musical. And, although I love Vince Gill, I had to agree with my son about the concert Brian Setzer gave. It was extraordinary! The talent of the musicians in his group was over the top. And, the show was visually impressive as well.

Fiddler has a sad story ending, unfortunately. You might not leave the theater feeling good – that all is right with the world. One of the criticisms I read late last night was that the second act fell flat. I think that there might be some confusion about what the audience expected. The second act is less celebratory. Events happen that are unfortunate. The play takes on a somber theme. It didn’t fall flat, it was just how the story turned out.

Fiddler is a perennial story of life, values, trust, family, community and the changes time brings. It should be seen at least once by everyone. It has some great messages to take with you once your night at the theater is over.

The touring schedule is attached, here.

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday. Thank you to TwoWritingTeachers.org who organize, host, and continue this forum each week.

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