REVIEW: Fiddler On The Roof, Mayflower, Southampton, September 5-14.

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More than 40 years after appearing in the film, Paul Michael Glaser steps up from young firebrand to sorely-tried patriarch in a huge moment of personal triumph in the stage show.

In between times, Glaser has even more famously been Starsky in the huge 70s TV series Starsky & Hutch.

But it’s his return to Fiddler which probably gives the full measure of the man as he delivers a rich and deeply-impressive performance as a father whose world is tumbling down around him.

Tevye is simply the village milkman, but Glaser invests him with dignity and humanity as he battles changing times on every front.

In the background lurks the threat of expulsion from his homeland; more pressing, for most of the time, is the fact that his daughters are kicking up, part of a generation not content to fall in with the plans of the local matchmaker. No, they want to marry for love – and the kindly Tevye finds himself having to bend his beloved traditions.

The show’s sole problem is the sluggishness of a first half which stretches to an hour and 40 minutes. With Craig Revel Horwood as choreographer, of course, the choreography is superb, but there are times when you can’t help feeling that it’s doing the story few favours.

But the leaner second half certainly packs a powerful punch as daughter after daughter leaves the nest and the world he knows and understands slips through Tevye’s fingers.

Part of the pleasure of the production is the sheer talent of the actor-musicians who bring it to life, and there is plenty of savour in numbers including If I Were a Rich Man, Matchmaker Matchmaker, Sunrise Sunset and To Life.

But you just can’t help feeling that less would definitely have been more in that first half.

Phil Hewitt