“Fiddler on the Roof” by Village Theatre

There’s no denying that “Fiddler on the Roof” is schmaltz of the highest order. But in Village Theatre’s production, the schmaltz is presented in superb musical style by a cast that knows just how to drip it out. Director David Ira Goldstein understands the culture and his audience. And how lovely at the holiday season to have a Jewish theatrical spectacular amid all the Christmas trees, plum puddings, and Santa Clauses.

Our central character, Tevye, is a poor Russian Jew living under the rule of the Czar. With five daughters to marry off and no money for their dowries, he has serious problems. But is he disconsolate? No! He’s happy for his blessings, loves his family and community and gains strength from his religion. The robust Eric Polani Jensen brings forth all of Tevye’s frustrations, wistfulness, joy, and moral fiber whether he’s dancing gaily around the stage or laboriously carrying out his daily routine

His supporting cast abounds in energy and skill. The musical numbers, so many now part of our popular culture, are both fresh and heartwarming here thanks to the skilled musical direction of Bruce Monroe and the wit of choreographer Kathryn Van Meter.

With their prayer shawls, black hats, and substantial beards the male actors would be perfectly at home in orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Every cultural icon is here from matchmaker, to Sabbath candles. And the set, with its Chagall images creating the backdrop, puts us directly into the little shtetl in Russia 100 years ago.

There are no surprises in “Fiddler on the Roof.” It’s been around since 1964. You know its music, and you know its story. Sentimental as it is, it still works, and this is a particularly good production.

Through Dec. 30 at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St. N., Issaquah 425-392-2202 and from Jan. 4 to 27 at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett, 425-257-8600, (www.villagetheatre.org).

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