Photos: My night at Phamaly’s “Fiddler on the Roof”

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By John Moore
Aug. 3, 2013

Opening No. 98: Phamaly Theatre Company’s “Fiddler on the Roof”: Colorado’s renowned professional handicapped theater company has a pre-show ritual called “Zap.” As if there weren’t enough energy in the air already, the group circles up and begins to buzz. Literally. Group leader (and leading actor) Mark Dissette yells variations on, “This is our dream – get a little louder” …. And they do. “Bzzz.” “This is our vision – get a little louder.” And they do. “BZZZ.” After more exhortation, the vibration builds to a deafening climax. “1-2-3 …” Dissette shouts, and 40-plus voices scream in unison, “ZAP!” That’s followed by sudden, solemn silence. The next spoken word is not to be uttered by anyone until the actors hit the stage. Though I am hardly a digital stitcher of panoramas (obviously), this photo is my attempt to circle the circle. This summer, “Fiddler” takes on the famous musical about the small town of Anatevka, rooted in its tradition, as it comes together to celebrate life, mourn death, rejoice in marriage, and care for each other. Tevye and his wife Golde have to make difficult decisions in the face of new ideas coming from the outside world. You can bet Phamaly director Steve Wilson chooses apt moments that make plain Phamaly tells these classic stories like you’ve never seen them before. Just wait till you see the chair dance. I am always made aware each summer how many people are seeing Phamaly productions for the first time. After the opening number, pretty much the whole audience could hear an incredulous man in the audience sort of whisper-shout his epiphany: “I think that rabbi dude is BLIND!!!” “Fiddler”features a cast of 32 and stars Dissette as Tevye; Kathleen Traylor as Golde; Rachel Van Scoy, Kenzie Kilroy and Lyndsay Palmer as the daughters whose names I can never keep straight; Trenton Schindele, Jeremy Palmer and Daniel Traylor as their matchless matches; Ashley Kelashian as Yente, Kevin Pettit as Lazar Wolf; and the tag-team of Leslie Wilburn and Sophia Hummell as the fiddlers. Speaking of Phamaly singular Phamaly moments, keep an eye on the oversized dress that drapes the dream-demon Fruma-Sarah. Sometimes the magic of Phamaly is most evident in its transparency. “Fiddler” plays through Aug. 11 at the Space Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 303-575-0005 or phamaly’s home page. Thanks: Gloria Shanstrom, Erin Leonard, cast and crew.


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By John Moore

Award-winning arts journalist John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the United States by American Theatre Magazine during has 12 years at The Denver Post. Hen then created a groundbreaking new media outlet covering Colorado arts an culture as an in-house, multimedia journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He also founded The Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that has raised more than $600,000 for theatre artists in medical need. He is now a journalist for hire as the founder of Moore Media Colorado. You can find samples of his work at MooreJohn.Com. Contact him at