by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Fifty years ago, a seemingly unlikely musical made its Broadway debut and then went on to become the longest-running show of the decade. Now, this beloved classic and nine-time Tony winner comes to Mathers Theatre in a grand-scale, anniversary-year production with a casting surprise and a delicious twist.
Opening on Friday, Oct. 31 and continuing Nov. 1, 3 and 4 (8 p.m., Mathers Theatre), Fiddler on the Roof tells the story of a Jewish milkman, Tevye, his family and his small Russian village during a time of significant social change. Jeremy Lupowitz ’15 leads the cast as the everyman patriarch who struggles to uphold tradition in the face of upheaval, and theatre-arts major Isabelle Schlick '15, a Mermaid Players veteran, plays Golde, Tevye’s rock-solid, sharp-tongued wife.
“The simple beauty of the show is that it's so culturally specific but still manages to portray universal human challenges,” says Lupowitz, a double major in theatre arts and French who is planning a career in arts administration. “I've been ecstatic about this piece ever since the Department of Theatre & Dance announced it last spring.”
Isabel Burlingame '15, a double major in music and environmental science, performs as The Fiddler. Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71. Click on the image above to view a gallery of photos.
Julia Nadeau ’16 (Tzeitel), Sara Tillett ’17 (Hodel), Sarah Zimmer ’17 (Chava) and Kathryn Cargill ’16 (Bielka) portray Tevye and Golde’s five daughters, and Dana Lopatin ’15 plays their matchmaker. The young women’s suitors are Jonah Levi-Paeksy ’17 (Motel the tailor), Dalton Maltz ’16 (Perchick, the radical student) and Michael Galamba ’16 as the well-off butcher, Lazar Wolf. Isabel Burlingame ’15, a double major in music and environmental science, makes her acting debut in the title role, the Fiddler, a part inspired by a Marc Chagall painting. She also plays violin in the pit, as part of Professor of Music Robert Pound’s 15-member orchestra.
That full orchestra pit, combined with a 22-member cast, distinguishes Fiddler as the first large-scale, warhorse musical to come to the Dickinson stage in several years, says the show’s director, Professor of Theatre Todd Wronski, adding that this fall also marks the first official, Department of Theatre & Dance production of the iconic work. Add in the 50th anniversary, and you have some well-earned buzz. Naturally, Wronski pulled out the stops.
Ted Merwin, director of the Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life, worked with Wronski and cast members to ensure that their reenactments of Jewish religious rituals are accurate and their dialects correct, and the Asbell Center Cooking Club will add to the show’s authentic flavor by selling homemade traditional Jewish food in the lobby. The casting of Professor of Mathematics Barry Tesman as the village rabbi brings an additional element of excitement to the mix.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with our student-actors and all of the people behind the scenes,” said Tesman, who acted in college in the 1970s. “They’re all talented, hard-working and professional.” Asked if he found it difficult to come back to the stage after a 40-year hiatus, Tesman admitted that the vocal demands were a bit intimidating, at first. “I always sound so much better in the shower,” he quipped.
Fiddler on the Roof runs on Friday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. (Mathers Theatre, Holland Union Building). Tickets are $7, or $5 for advanced-purchase tickets with student ID.
Published October 31, 2014