Away from Strictly's 'gloss and spangle' ; Strictly Come Dancing's sharp-tongued judge Craig Revel Horwood is the director of a new stage version of Fiddler On The Roof, which comes to Nottingham next month. Al Senter reports
THERE are two Craig Revel Horwoods. The public version is probably best known for his acid-tongued dissections of the shortcomings of the celebrity hoofers on Strictly Come Dancing.
The other is a dedicated choreographer/director with an increasing presence in the musical theatre industry and whose new production of Fiddler On The Roof will be coming to Nottingham next month.
The musical opened on Broadway in 1964 and went on to be one of the longest-running shows ever. During the 1960s, the airwaves were full of songs from its score, notably Sunrise Sunset and If I Were A Rich Man.
I love the story, I also love the music and it has great lyrics, says Craig. And we've also pulled off a bit of a coup in signing Paul Michael Glaser (better known for 1970s TV show Starsky & Hutch) to play Tevye. He appeared as Perchik in the film version of Fiddler in 1971.
He continues: For me, it's a story about persecution, it's a story about family values, it's a story about broken hearts and dreams. It's really moving and yet it's extremely funny. And every number in the score is a winner.
I like doing big shows in a small, intimate way.
Here you have an on-stage band written into the show and whereas most touring productions of Fiddler would have about seven musicians in the band, here we can have 20 and these 20 players will make it sound magnificent. And for once you can have a real fiddler playing The Fiddler on the Roof rather than an actor miming it.
He argues that the show has an important and very timely message: Different religions often cause barriers to be built between people but Fiddler gives you an insight into the Jewish religion. It's about acceptance and understanding of a different culture, a different religion and it teaches people about faith.
Fiddler also shows people getting angry and standing up for themselves. When the Russian soldiers appear, it creates an atmosphere of aggression and mistrust and there are still such tensions in the world today.
Working as director/choreographer on Fiddler On The Roof is, Craig says, the complete antithesis to the world of Strictly Come Dancing, which he characterises as all gloss and spangle.
He says: Directing is completely different. I go into a new show with a wholly blank canvas; it's a voyage of discovery in which I listen and I learn.
Do his actor/musicians tremble like the hapless Strictly Come Dancing contestants? I tell them the truth, he says simply. You have to be honest with actors if you have to get them to upgrade their performances. But then I've chosen to work with them and so I like them, which is a hugely different scenario from Strictly.
What does he hope audiences will take away from the production? I'd like them to engage emotionally with the story and in that way learn something about themselves through understanding how other people live and think.
Fiddler On The Roof runs at the Theatre Royal on September 17- 21. Tickets are Pounds 19-Pounds 37.50 from the box office. Call 0115 989 5555 or go to trch.co.uk.
'' It's really moving and yet it's extremely funny. And every number in the score is a winner Craig Revel Horwood
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