News Ticker

Steven Skybell

On the Town with Chip Deffaa: From Anatevka to Wales

January 1, 2023

"Fiddler"--brilliantly directed by Joel Grey—is an unusually impactful production. It’s emotionally rich, moving, and timeless. And wholly believable.  They had me from the first words of the opening number, “Tradition.” (And what a glorious ensemble sound they got!) Steven Skybell playing “Tevye” won the Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor when this production was first presented in 2019.  (And the production as a whole won Drama Desk, New York Drama Critics Circle and Outer Critics Circle awards that same season.)   He is an excellent Tevye—earthy, naturalistic, struggling to deal with the hardships of life, and able to leaven the hardships with well-expressed humor. This is a big production for Off-Broadway, with some two dozen actors in the company, and Zalmen Mlotek conducting 10 musicians in the orchestra.   I don’t speak Yiddish, but the English supertitles would make it easy for anyone to follow along.  I’ve seen Fiddler, in various incarnations, enough times—and I’ve savored the original Broadway cast album since Fiddler first premiered back in the 1960’s—I  didn’t really need to read all of the supertitles.  I quickly got engrossed in the action.   This is one of the greatest of all musicals—the book, music, and lyrics are so strong—it always has rewards to offer. [more]

Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish

February 23, 2019

The property is now more than a half-century old. But this production makes it seem as though the 1964 iteration were merely an English-language version of a classic from even longer ago. There’s a greater feeling of immediacy than perhaps ever before. Hearing the characters speak and sing in the tongue that their real-life 1905 contemporaries would have used is deeply moving. What a shame that so many speakers of Yiddish from decades past never got the chance to experience the musical in this guise. [more]

Fiddler on the Roof (The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene)

July 28, 2018

Steven Skybell’s Tevye warms up from a salt-of-the-earth, everyday philosopher to the much put-upon tragic existential hero upon whom God—to whom he speaks frequently—has heaped much tsouris.  By the time he has lost a third daughter Khavele, this time to a Russian Christian, his interpretations of the songs and his line readings are heart-breaking. [more]

Babette’s Feast

April 2, 2018

aithful to the story and like the film, this stage adaptation uses narration from Dinesen’s story. However, not only are the actors used as storytellers, some of the characters also narrate themselves. Set in a small town in Berleväg, Norway, the most northern outpost of the continent of Europe, the story takes place in 1883 but flashes back to earlier days using hardly any props, much in the same way that Thornton Wilder’s "Our Town" tells its story. [more]