Preview: ‘Fiddler on the Roof’

Cedarville’s theatre department brings to life the story of a poor milkman, Tevye, and his family, as told in the classic play “Fiddler on the Roof.” The musical, set in the Russian-Jewish community of Anatevka, visits the Cedarville stage Jan. 29–31 and Feb. 6–8.

Junior Robert Rhodes, who plays Tevye, said his character is very set on what is traditional, which becomes a powerful theme throughout the play.

Tevye’s wife, Golde, played by junior Anna Porter, is the matriarch of the whole show, Porter said.

“Golde wears the pants in the family,” Porter said. “She just lets Tevye think he does.”

A significant part of the story has to do with Golde’s mission in this stage of her life.

“I’m very concerned with getting my daughters married so that they can have better lives than the one I had,” said Porter, speaking as Golde.

As the story unfolds, Golde works with Yente (played by sophomore Raven Simmons), the town’s flamboyant matchmaker, to find her daughters wives. During the play, all five daughters confront the issue of finding a good husband.

As the oldest, Tzeitel (played by senior Chandler Hull) is the one who is the most burdened in her search.

“(Tzeitel’s) whole life has been focused on the fact that she’ll be getting married soon,” Hull said.

Fiddler Daughters

The five daughters of Golde and Tevye are urged to find husbands in Cedarville’s “Fiddler on the Roof.” Golde teams up with matchmaker Yente to find husbands for the five girls. (photo: David Li)

Naturally, Hodel (played by Virginia Scites) and Chava (played by Madison Hart), the next daughters in line, also feel the burden of searching for a good spouse – with the help of Yente of course. The younger two girls, Shprintze and Bielke, are played by freshman Gabrielle Bauman and sophomore Anastasia Huffman, respectively. Finally, the Fiddler is performed by Sam Franklin.

Theatre professor Diane Merchant is the director for this musical.

“The thing that I like about Dr. Merchant is that she’s a historian by nature, and she does a lot of research,” Hull said.

She also said Merchant has done plenty of research in order to make sure that “Fiddler on the Roof” is accurate to Jewish culture.

Porter said Merchant has been very diligent in creating the world the characters live in.

“She’s really careful about creating this world that we’re in and doesn’t want to do anything that’s going to take us out of it, even if it’s subconscious,” Porter said.

Tifton Graves, an adjunct worship professor, is in charge of the musical aspect of the production, and Carrie Anthony is the choreographer for the show.

Besides the various directors, there is also a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into making a production like “Fiddler.” A large part of this work falls on the lap of sophomore theatre major Megan Howell, the stage manager. Her position encompasses large amounts of the behind the scenes work from paperwork to lighting to casting.

“I oversee all the acting and technical components of the show,” Howell said.

She is also the master electrician when it comes to lighting and effects. She has worked on the show since April 2014 and will continue to work on the play until its completion.

The cast has been rehearsing since late October for this production. At first, the practices were split between acting, dancing and singing, but in the recent months, all of those elements have been combined to blend everything together into one cohesive show, Hull said.

Outside of rehearsals, the cast practices on their own as well. They all have specific things that they work on.

Robert Rhodes said he liked to practice getting the feelings behind the lines for his character, Tevye. Raven Simmons (Yente) said she has to practice her accent, because, as she said, “It’s hard to get it down.” Stuart Leach, the props coordinator and a dancer in the show, said that there was a lot of practice outside of rehearsal on dancing, specifically regarding the bottle dance.

For much of the cast, the practice time has become a part of each actor.

Hull said, “It feels like everything I do, in the back of my mind I’m thinking, ‘Oh I should be rehearsing something for Fiddler.’”

Howell said though it’s a lot of hard work, it’s also an amazing experience.

“It’s been a really fascinating experience seeing all the elements come together so nicely,” she said.

Bottle Dance Fiddler

The bottle dance has been a challenging dance to master, sophomore Stuart Leach said. (photo: David Li)

And as the actors progress, they get to know their character better and better.

Simmons said, “I’ve really enjoyed playing Yente. She has an impact on Raven.”

Rhodes echoed that statement.

“Growing with my character has been such a pleasure,” he said.

Porter said she’s grown alongside of her character as well.

“With every character you obviously learn more about them, but you also learn more about yourself,” she said.

Opening night activities hosted by the Student Center Activities Board begin Thursday at 7 p.m. with the show to follow at 8 p.m. in Cedarville’s Devries Theatre.

Michael Shawn Carbaugh II is a freshman music composition major and arts and entertainment writer for Cedars. He likes to write music in nearly every genre and enjoys listening to new genres as well.

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