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Fiddler on the Roof Review

Fiddler on the Roof Review - BLOC at Bristol Hippodrome

BLOC Productions Presents

Fiddler On The Roof

The Bristol Hippodrome

Tuesday 4th – Saturday 8th October 2016

The plan on Tuesday was to take all three of my boys to the opening night of Fiddler on the Roof, one of the most popular and successful shows in Musical Theatre history, but as the twelve year old had been hit by the latest bug going around, the husband stepped in to take his place at the last minute. I mention this because, while the husband will come to the theatre now and again, he’s not one to come and watch just anything, so I hoped it would be a good show!

I was keen to see this performance by Bristol’s own multi award-winning production company, BLOC Productions, as I’d been impressed by their White Christmas back in 2003. I also enjoyed watching Fiddler on the Roof on television many moons ago and was looking forward to hearing memorable songs like, Matchmaker’ ‘If I Were A Rich Man’ and  ‘Do You Love Me?’ again.


Fiddler on the Roof Review - BLOC at Bristol Hippodrome


The story centres on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as outside influences encroach upon the family’s lives. He must cope both with the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters, who wish to marry for love – each one’s choice of a husband moves further away from the customs of his faith – and with the edict of the Tsar to evict all the Jews from their village.


This is the first time I’ve seen the stage musical, so up until now Oscar winning, Chaim Topol has been firmly entrenched in my head as protagonist, Tevye. Clevedon actor, Simon Vardakis takes on this role and what an amazing job he does. If you’re familiar with the film or the play, you’ll remember Tevye turning to a higher power in moments of crisis, trying to decide on the best course of action through via humourous conversations with God. Simon does this perfectly – his powerful stage presence, singing and comic timing all convince me within moments that he is a very worthy Tevye!

Fiddler on the Roof Review - BLOC at Bristol Hippodrome


The show is engaging right from the start. The cast is huge, featuring an 80 strong ensemble, including a double casting of 44 children so there are plenty of people to fill busy scenes like the wedding. Lucy Pope (from Westbury-on-Trym) plays Tevye’s wife Golda and Amber Andrews (from Bishopston) is the Matchmaker. We find ourselves playing ‘spot the familiar face’ as we realise we know at least a few members of this local team, including the fiddler herself! The cast is supported by a live orchestra in the pit.

Having been involved in amateur dramatics myself, I’m struck by the number of costumes the wardrobe department has had to assemble, so here’s a nod to you all. The costumes look great!

The men make a very good attempt at energetic Russian dancing and there’s a real sense of drunken rowdiness and hilarity as the whole bar celebrates Tevye’s agreement that Lazar Wolf will marry his eldest daughter.

Fiddler on the Roof Review - BLOC at Bristol Hippodrome

These are poor folk, so the simplicity of adding red ribbons to prepare the girls’ outfits for the Sabbath and having the cast carrying their own tables and chairs on and off stage seems completely in line with that.

Lighting is used well to suggest the mood in some scenes and I like the additional use of lanterns and candles during the Sabbath.


My boys enjoy familiar songs like, “If I were a Rich Man” and there’s plenty of clear dialogue between numbers, making the plot easy to follow. The story is straightforward enough that my seven year old can understand it and complex enough that we all find it interesting, including my husband (yay!). There are lots of children on stage, both in principal and ensemble roles which make it more relevant for the boys.

My ten and eight year old thoroughly enjoy Fiddler on the Roof, not even minding the absence of a twee, happy ending. Watching as different groups of the hastily evicted Jewish community decide where to make new lives for themselves, leads to lots of question after the show and an empathetic conversation and perhaps a greater understanding of the plight of Syrian refugees in our car on the way home.

Fiddler on the Roof Review - BLOC at Bristol Hippodrome


Despite having researched this and found a couple of suggestions, such as a reference made by Tevye and a painting of the same name, I still can’t answer with any certainty, my seven year old’s question:-

Why is it called ‘Fiddler on the Roof?’

If you have any suggestions about this, please let me know in the comments below!

The political and social story are still relevant today. There’s poverty, sadness and soul searching in this musical, but there’s plenty of clever humour, fun songs and laughing out loud too.

Well done to BLOC for delivering another great show. I’d highly recommend Fiddler on the Roof and if you’re keen to take your children to the Hippodrome, this could be a really good opportunity with tickets starting from £11.90.

Click here for information on booking this show.
(affiliate link)

Fiddler On The Roof

Tuesday 4th-Saturday 8th October 2016

Evenings at 7.30 pm

Matinees on Wed & Sat at 2.30 pm

Tickets from £11.90

Concessions available at certain performances

Click here for a complete diary listing of shows at the Bristol Hippodrome during 2016

Enjoyed our Fiddler on the Roof review? Then why not check out other show reviews on Practically Perfect Mums?

Breakfast at Tiffany’s



Guys and Dolls

Chicago The Musical

Taming of the Shrew Ballet

Let It Be

Mamma Mia!


Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty


Avenue Q

The Last Tango

The Bodyguard

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 

Mary Poppins

Little Table of Delights

I Puritani

Romeo and Juliet


4 comments… add one
  • Lu 07/10/2016, 08:37

    Hi! Thanks for your review, glad you enjoyed it! After researching The title I found an article by Nancy Friedman where she talks about the many many title options the creators talked over! Finally they settled as the creator wanted something that made it clear that the production was a musical. She goes on to say that ” The fiddlers precarious position on the roof is the overarching metaphor for the characters’ predicament, teetering between old and new. (The roof violinist was a favorite motif of the Russian-French-Jewish artist Marc Chagall, who was Robbins’s first choice to design the sets and costumes for Fiddler.” In our production the director wanted the character to be present at the main events the village goes through. A ‘spirit’ behind Tevye. The Chagal link is beautifully referenced by the purple coat! Again, thank you for your review! Loads of love Lu. The Fiddler.

    • Jane Batt 07/10/2016, 11:57

      Hi Lu
      Thanks for such a comprehensive answer! Yes, we really enjoyed it and I’ve been telling people to go and see it since Tuesday. It did amuse me when I noticed in the programme that you were the fiddler.
      Great makeup – shame I can’t find a beard emoji for you! ?
      Jane x

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