Holton High School staging "Fiddler on the Roof"
The plight of Jews and Orthodox Christians in pre-revolutionary Russia may not make for great comedy, but it inspired one of the most popular Broadway musicals in history, and Holton High School will bring that musical to its stage this weekend.
And while “Fiddler on the Roof,” to be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday in the HHS auditorium, may be a musical about “Tradition,” director and HHS vocal music instructor Randall
Bond said it provided him and his students with an opportunity to break from tradition.
“I wanted to try a different type of musical,” Bond said. “We have established that we are pretty good at musical and romantic comedies. ‘Fiddler’ definitely has its funny moments, but it is most definitely not a comedy.”
Originally produced on Broadway in 1964, “Fiddler” features such familiar songs as “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Matchmaker” and “Tradition.” But while some of those songs have a light tone, the overall story does not, and Bond said that has had an effect on getting the musical ready for its audience.
“As was expected, the rehearsals have not been as ‘positive’ because of the content of the show,” he said. “Many students expressed that the show was ‘depressing’ during moments of rehearsal. Overall, though, the students bought in and embraced the challenge early on.”
Involved students have also accepted the challenge of putting on a compelling show in spite of the musical’s subject matter and other outside commitments, such as football and FFA.
“The larger group numbers, and especially a dream sequence, have been a lot of fun for the majority of the students,” Bond said.
In addition to directing and coordinating the musical numbers, Bond said he has also taken on the challenge of choreographing the production — no easy task, he noted, given the dance sequences that accompany such songs as “To Life.”
“I figure if I can do the moves, then all the boys can probably get them down,” he joked.
The musical tells the story of Tevye (Tristan Parks), a poor Jewish milkman living in the Russian village of Anatevka with wife Golde (Anne Bowser) and his five daughters at the turn of the 20th century. Tevye aims to see that his daughters are married off with the help of the matchmaker Yente (Miranda Wood), according to Jewish tradition, but his three oldest daughters have their own ideas.
Oldest daughter Tzeitel (Bekah Lux) is promised to Lazar Wolf (Brandon Lehnherr), an older, widowed butcher, but she prefers Motel (Tel Wittmer), a poor tailor, while second daughter Hodel (Breanna Teter) chooses revolutionary student Perchik (Nathan Shields). But the decision of third daughter Chava (Mary Gorden) to be with Fyedka (Indie Allen), a Christian, is violently opposed by Tevye, who does not want his daughters to marry “outside the faith.”
Meanwhile, pre-revolutionary activities in Kiev complicate matters with Hodel and Perchik, and the Czar has ordered the eviction of the Jewish community from Anatevka, forcing Tevye, his family and his fellow villagers to ponder their respective futures.
“I needed a confident cast that could handle it,” Bond said of the HHS students taking on the roles. “We definitely have that this year.”
Other cast members include Sophia Mellenbruch (Shprintze), Ashlyn Robinson (Bielke), Nathan Haefke (Mordcha), Torin Kaboudan (Rabbi), Jonah Torres (Mendel), Jess Misenhelter (Avram), Breck Emert (Nacham), Beth Mandala (Grandma Tzeitel), Lyndie Copeland (Fruma Sarah), Matt Doud (Constable) and Emma Wittmer (Shaindel).
Also appearing in the musical as villagers are Draven Wahwassuck, Jess Misenhelter, Jonah Torres, Breck Emert, Nathan Haefke, Sonora Sheldon, Megan Rhule, Carley Raney, Maddie, Draper, Elizabether DeBoer, MaKayla Colhour, Katelyn Hards, Madison Beightel, Kaitlyn Schlodder, MacKenzie Kelly, Celana Zehner and Kylie Hulse-Nelson.
A dinner theater is planned with Saturday’s performance, starting at 5 p.m., and tickets for the dinner theater are $15 per person. Tickets for the performances by themselves are $5 for adults and $4 for ages 12 and under; call the HHS office at 364-2181 for advance ticket information.