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Showing posts with label fiddler on the roof. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fiddler on the roof. Show all posts
Tuesday, 22 August 2017

In Conversation With... Alexandra Silber | Interview

In Conversation With... Alexandra Silber | Interview
Tuesday, 22 August 2017
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If you've been on the tube in the last few months I'm sure you'll have spotted the marvellous Alexandra Silber's face plastered over the walls for Today Tix. Whilst Al's face is up there for her performances both on the West End and Broadway, she is also a beautifully eloquent lady and recently published her debut novel, After Anatevka, which tells the story of Hodel after Fiddler on the Roof

Alexandra was lovely enough to talk to Rewrite This Story about her writing process, After Anatevka, her transition from West End to Broadway and so much more. Make sure you read until the end to find out how you can win a copy of After Anatevka!



For anyone that doesn’t know, can you explain a little about your career and highlights so far?

I went to drama school in Glasgow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before living in London and working the West End for several years. 

While I was in my final year at RCS, I was cast as Laura Fairlie in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White opposite Ruthie Henshall, Anthony Andrews and Damian Humbley

Among many other things, I have also played Julie Jordan in Carousel in the West End, made my Broadway debut opposite Tyne Daly in Terrence McNally’s Master Class, and have sung at Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, was nominated for a Grammy for singing Maria in a the first ever symphonic recording of West Side Story with the San Francisco Symphony, and of course, at Royal Albert Hall with the John Wilson Orchestra for the BBC Proms as the titular character in their production of Kiss Me Kate

Above all, I have been fortunate enough to play two of Tevye’s daughters, one on each side of the Atlantic— the first was in the West End, portraying After Anatevka’s protagonist Hodel (the second-eldest daughter of Shalom Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman who is the star of the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof) at the Sheffield Crucible and its West End transfer, and last year, played Tzeitl, Tevye’s eldest daughter on Broadway in the most recent Broadway revival. 

Portraying both characters for such lengths of time, and with such incomparable creative teams and casts, informed, inspired and shaped the writing of After Anatevka: it truly was a journey from stage to page. 




Have you always aspired to be a performer or did you have a different dream when you were younger?

I always knew I wanted to be a professional creative— I’m not certain that acting and singing professionally was the epitome of my dream. As a child and teenager I loved the theatre, felt at home and accepted amongst its “creatures” and had an outlet to explore new worlds, research new ways of life, get inside different people’s minds and heart, and to express so many of my deepest emotions. 

I’ve been thinking very deeply about “dreams coming true” recently— possibly because so many people are asking me about it. “Is publishing your novel a dream come true” they will ask, and I don’t entirely know how to answer that. Because of course it is, I have dreamed of sharing my stories with the wider world, to hold a book-shaped book, with actual binding and  I have written in my hands

The voices on Broadway cast recordings were not only my inspirations, but my companions, my teachers; I know many people for whom that is a familiar history. But I felt very much the same about characters in books. I was just as enamored with E.M Forster’s Margaret Schlegel as I was with the book and score of South Pacific. 



Other than writing, have you got any hidden passions you’d like to pursue?

I love the accordion and have taken several lessons, and I passionately want to visit Antarctica. 



What drew you to the roles of Hodel and then Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof— are the three of you alike in any ways?

There are too many to mention. I honestly feel this question is best answered within the pages of After Anatevka— and not only the similarities, but the differences, and the growth every human being hopefully acquires as they age and experience life. I had the uncanny joy of being able to understand each woman more deeply as I embodied the other— much like members of the same family come to more deeply understand their siblings as they all become adults. 

One of my most treasured passages from After Anatevka is from the penultimate chapter, an epistolary exchange from Tzeitel to Hodel:


Home, Hodelleh. That place beyond the place where we rest our heads every night. Where our centerpieces, our sewing, our carefully prepared meals, simply do not matter. Where our petty little differences and competitions with one another do not matter anymore.

And I thought of you.

It is odd, Hodelleh. Because I do not know if you shall ever read this, I feel compelled to tell you more than ever. Home—where love shall reign supreme. The kind of home you always held within your heart, my dear sister, the kind no meaningless skill of mine could ever fully capture. How I love you, Hodel. It aches within me that I failed to show you in so many ways. That I provided you with every comfort but the comfort of my heart.

Yet I know that we shall both, as we always did, return to each other. For the love beneath our struggle is so strong. Perhaps in time, the Lord shall reveal to us why it is so difficult.


My goodness, to embody two such women. What a privilege.  




Did you feel any extra responsibility or pressure playing one of the few Jewish female characters in musical theatre?

I believe that if you portray any character or story with honesty and vulnerability, the work will resonate. Our only responsibility as artists is to tell the truth. 


After Anatevka tells the story of Hodel after Fiddler. When you research for a role do you think about what happens to the character after the show ends as well as their backstory or was Hodel an exception?

Hodel was absolutely an exception. 

The Broadway community and wider world may know me as the most-recent Tzeitel,  from the 2016 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, but from October 2006 to February 2008, I played Tevye's second-eldest daughter, Hodel, in the last West End revival in London. That experience was, without exception, the most immersive and deeply felt of my artistic life thus far. It was like a “first love—” the kind one never forgets, and imprints itself upon you more deeply than any to follow it. Hodel’s strength and sense of purpose, your complex feminine spirit, her wit and determination, her devotion and loving heart. She offered me a chance to find all of these things within myself, and to grow with them. 

While all characters tend to endear themselves to you, Hodel haunted me— remained in my cells like an un-rinseable, inextinguishable fuel. Actors often embody traits of the characters they take on, but few characters weave in and out of the soul until you can scarcely detect the line between the emotional truths of one and the other. 


If you could write a continuation of any other musical theatre character, who would you choose and why?

Tzeitel. I think we can all agree that I’m now intensely involved in this family’s “future story—” I do feel compelled to finish what I’ve started. Additionally, I don’t think I’ve heard the last of Hodel. We leave her at quite a cliffhanger in After Anatevka

You’ve made the transition from West End to Broadway and from acting to writing so well. What would your advice be to people hoping to do similar?

Being a “multi-hyphenate” is simultaneously straightforward, and tremendously complex. 

To “do” something other than what is listed on, say, your tax return, there is very little required other than to just DO it. You want to write? Don’t wait for a permission slip from the Gods of Writing; just write. An essay. A blogpost. A Tweet. It does’t matter what you create as long as you actually create it, and create it from a place of authenticity. 



What’s your writing setup like? Do you have a certain playlist you listen to or a drink you always have?

Yes. I have a beautiful vintage pull-down writing desk! It has been handed down from my mother— she found it on the street when she was in college. When she discovered it, it was covered in layers of paint that she subsequently stripped away, to reveal a beautiful raw wood. The desk has been in my home since childhood, and the handle where you “pull-down” is the face of a lion, that I always thought was the face of Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia

I write for about one hour every day, with a pot of tea poured from my perfect little tea pot (gifted to me by actress Lara Pulver), under the supervision of my cat, Tatiana. 



Whats a fun fact people might not know about you?

I’m an introvert. In fact, according to the Myers Briggs personality test I’m an INFJ (which is a very rare personality type, about 2% of the world’s population). Many people challenge me on this, based on their mis-impressions of not only me, but introverts in general. Introverts are not necessarily aloof, shy, people-hating trolls, we simply recharge our personal batteries in solitude. Despite my highly developed extrovert behavior, I still require (and enjoy!) lots of time alone to process life. 

Also, I have a (fabulous, diva, rescued) cat named Tatiana Angela Lansbury Romanov. She is a star (cue: Mama Rose music)!! She has her own Instagram page, which is: photographs of “Tati” (as I call her) with theatrical captions called @ifeelkitty.…..You’re welcome. 



What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?


For anyone, really: success is not about what you do, it is about how you feel about what you do. 



A massive thank you to Al for taking the time to do this interview. Read my review of After Anatevka here.

Time for the giveaway! To win a SIGNED COPY of After Anatevka all you have to do is RT THIS TWEET and follow Rewrite This Story on twitter! You get two extra entries if you follow @OliviaMitche and @RewriteThisWeb on instagram.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

In Conversation With... Emma Kingston | Interview

In Conversation With... Emma Kingston | Interview
Wednesday, 16 August 2017
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In my opinion, Emma Kingston has one of the absolute best voices on the West End. I've been fortunate enough to see her in a number of shows and concerts, including Les Miserables, In The Heights and most recently, the stunning Fiddler on the Roof at the Chichester Festival theatre. Emma was kind enough to sit down and discuss Fiddler, After Anatevka, her hidden passion and more...




Have you always aspired to be a performer or did you have a different dream when you were younger?

I've always wanted to be a performer. I used to sing Les Mis and Anything Goes with my dad all the time. 



Have you got any hidden passions you’d like to pursue?

I love Psychology! As an actor I love getting inside a characters brain. I studied Psychology at A Level and I would love to further my understanding of why people are the way they are. Furthering my study's would interest me as well as it being useful as an actor.



What drew you to the role of Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof- are the two of you alike in any ways?

I'm jewish, so growing up Fiddler was always being quoted around the house. I used to watch the film with my grandma. Also, ‘Far from the Home I Love’ was the first song I ever sang in a singing lesson when I was 11.



How is this production bringing something new to the well-loved musical?

We are so lucky that our production in Chichester has amazing new orchestrations by David White and new choreography by Alistair David, bringing a fresh take on the brilliant musical.

Sam MacKay (Usnavi) and Emma Kingston (Vanessa) in In The Heights

Do you feel any extra responsibility or pressure playing one of the few explicitly Jewish female characters in musical theatre?

I feel a responsibility to show the traditions in a way that people of other cultures can relate to. I want to show people that Judaism is a way of life as well as a religion. The community aspect for me is so important.



What’s your research process like for each role you take on, has After Anatevka helped add a new dimension to your portrayal?

For Fiddler I dived into researching about Russia pre 1905 and Russian attitudes towards jewish people. Also looking at Jewish culture in shetles in Russia. My paternal grandparents were children of immigrants from Lithuania and Oddessa, so I had lots of family history to draw on.

After Anatevka I am enjoying so much, especially now I understand so much more about Hodel. I’m loving reading her journey after she leaves home, and how Alexandra has filled in the parts of Fiddler that we don't see in the musical. 



If you’d written After Anatevka would you have given Hodel the same after story? 

Alexandra's story has portrayed so many aspects of Hodel's life during the Fiddler story and after that I thought about a lot. Especially the way she highlights her relationship with her sisters and Perchik. As I'm reading, I feel that the story all completely slots into place and I can't imagine her next journey any other way.



Tradition is obviously the central theme in Fiddler. Do you have any family traditions?

My family traditions are the Fiddler traditions! Every Friday night my family and I get together for a shabbat meal. We celebrate Jewish festivals like Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), Passover and many others.

Emma Kingston (Hodel), Simbi Akande (Tzeitel) , Rose Shalloo (Chava) in Fiddler on the Roof

How do you keep your voice healthy? Do you have any vocal rituals?

Drink endless amounts of water and concentrate on centring your breathing.  



If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next?

After Fiddler, I'm playing Eva Peron in the Hal Prince production of Evita, international tour and I can't wait! My mum is Argentine, so it's a huge bucket list role, much like Hodel in Fiddler is! 



Whats a fun fact people might not know about you?

One of my first words was Archemeaies (the owl from sword in the stone) my parents were so proud haha! 



What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?


Don't compare your journey to anybody else's. Be original. I read a quote by Steve Martin "Be so good they can't ignore you”, to me that means work as hard as you can on being the best you can be.



Thank you so much Emma for taking the time for this interview. Fiddler on the Roof runs until September 2nd. 

Read my review of After Anatevka here and keep an eye out for an interview with Alexandra Silber and a giveaway!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

After Anatevka, Alexandra Silber (Book) | Review

After Anatevka, Alexandra Silber (Book) | Review
Saturday, 12 August 2017
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Not just a writer, but a renowned actress both here in the UK and across the pond, Alexandra Silber has successfully made an incredible transition from stage to page with her debut novel, After Anatevka. The novel is a study of love and tradition in Russia in the early twentieth century and is the perfect continuation of Fiddler on the Roof and Hodel's story. Silber's writing is stunningly eloquent and she conjures up images of the long gone world with a delightful flow and accuracy.

With the ever growing popularity of sites such as fanfic and wattpad, there seems to be a desire to continue the stories of our favourite characters, but whilst these can sometimes be cheesy and idealistic, Silber's is raw, truthful and gritty.

We last see Hodel, the second eldest daughter of Tevye and Golde, when she is leaving her father in Anatevka as she gets on a train to Siberia to work and be with her love, Perchik who has been branded as a political criminal by the Tsarist government. As the train approaches, Hodel promises her father that one day, she and Perchik will be married in a traditional Jewish ceremony although they both know Tevye will never see this happen as she says "God alone knows when we shall see each other again". This is the final time we see Hodel and are left to to deal with the heartbreaking reality of what she would have faced when she reached Siberia.  

After Anatevka tells us exactly what Hodel faced in the corrupt, violent world she was placed in on her mission to reach her fiancé. I think what's most heartbreaking about this novel is how much truth is in it. Whilst this is a work of fiction, the happenings are not fictional and many, if not all prisoners of the state were treated in the same atrocious ways. What's clear is how painstakingly meticulous Silber's research was and how she was able to weave this all in to create a shockingly truthful portrayal of Siberia in the early twentieth century. 

As well as showing the pain Hodel experiences in the present, Silber also throws in little anecdotes about her childhood and her relationship with her sisters, especially her somewhat combative but loving sister, Tzeitel. Their love is clear and provides moving passages showing the longing she feels to see those she left behind. Perchik's backstory is also particularly interesting and adds a layer which is not seen in the show and shows why he fights his way through the Gulag's challenges so ferociously.

After Anatevka is a profound debut novel. Alexandra provides a sentimental, insightful and truthful take on a world where change and tradition and forever at war with one another and a beautiful look at love. Silber's writing flows with an ease and simplicity that makes it a joy to read and she is an extremely accomplished story teller.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


After Anatevka is available to purchase here!

If you enjoy reading book reviews, head over to my book review site: www.livsbookishlife.blogspot.co.uk
Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Fiddler on the Roof, Chichester Festival Theatre | Review

Fiddler on the Roof, Chichester Festival Theatre | Review
Wednesday, 2 August 2017
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Fiddler on the Roof
Chichester Festival Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday August 1st 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

It's not often that I venture out of London for theatre but when I do it's usually to Chichester and so far I've never been disappointed with a production. Of the various shows I've seen there, Fiddler on the Roof is by far the best and I am completely in awe of its brilliance. If I Were A Rich Man, I would fund this productions transfer to the West End right this minute, but as I'm not I will have to settle with the fact that the show, directed by Daniel Evans is absolutely fantastic so is more than likely to make the move without me... I'll just have to wait a little while.

Set in rural Tsarist Russia in 1905 when the first hints of revolution are revealing themselves, we follow Tevye who is trying to preserve tradition in the face of a changing world by marrying off his daughters. They, however, want to marry not for money but for love. In a time when Russia's Jews are facing incredible hardships where tradition is one of the few things keeping them together, Tevye has to decide whether his daughters' happiness is more important than his adored traditions. 

Omid Djalili was born to play the poor dairyman, Tevye. His masterful comedic timing is pure excellence but he also manages to capture his internal torment and external hardships perfectly. Djalili is able to involve the audience with every thought that goes through his head and makes sure that every side of the Festival Theatre gets to feel and see the emotion. Tracy-Ann Oberman is great as his wife, Golde, with her caustic personality the ideal contrast to the bright, humorous Tevye. 


Emma Kingston (Hodel) and Louis Maskell (Perchik)

The rest of the family are equally strong with the daughters each having clear personalities and being performed to the fullest. Simbi Akande as Tzeitel is sweet but strong, begging her father to allow her to marry the impoverished tailor, Motel (Jos Slovic). The pair work wonderfully together. Emma Kingston shows off her stunning voice as Hodel who falls in love with the forward thinking, Perchik played by Louis Maskell who has an equally beautiful voice which soared over every note perfectly in 'Now I Have Everything'. Particularly touching with the two was during the first Sabbath dinner when they kept subtly making eye contact with one another and we could see the first inklings of their romance. Rose Shalloo as Chava and Luke Fetherston as Fyedka have fantastic chemistry, showing their struggles with honesty and strength.

Lez Brotherston's design is bare and simplistic as it should be but transitions and evolves wonderfully to create the various settings and is able to establish feelings of both warmth and stark cold at various times. Alistair David's choreography is spectacular, lively and powerful. It unapologetically shows off Jewish tradition and does so in a extremely striking way; popping and dazzling from start to end. 

The entire cast are incredibly strong and this is as much an ensemble piece as it is a lead-led piece. Each moment when the cast come together- either in choreography or in close a cappella harmony- is magical.

I'm truly wowed by this production. My only little niggle is the accents at times, with some attempting and falling somewhat short but this is my only fault in an overall impeccable production. May it transfer and run for a very long time!

Fiddler on the Roof runs at the Chichester Festival Theatre until September 2nd 2017


photo credit: Johan Persson

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