It’s difficult to believe “Fiddler on the Roof” opened on Broadway 50 years ago. One of the longest running shows in Broadway history, its timeless themes of hope, love, persecution and acceptance are just as relevant today as they were then.
Directed by Jerry Tracy and assistant director, Tiffany Kutsunai, “Fiddler on the Roof” opens today at 7:30 p.m. at the Aloha Theatre in Kainalu.
The musical has stood the test of time with an award-winning score that includes some of the greatest songs ever written for the theater, including, “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Tradition,” and “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.” “Fiddler on the Roof” premiered on Broadway in 1964, garnering nine Tony Awards with subsequent Broadway revivals earning the musical even more awards.
Based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem, often called the “Russian Mark Twain,” “Fiddler on the Roof” is based on his character Tevye, the milkman, and his five daughters. Epic in plot and setting, the play weaves a universal tale about parents trying to maintain and instill traditions among their children in an ever changing world.
“The music is gorgeous and it’s a very culturally significant show,” Tracy said. “‘Fiddler’ brought back a pride in where the Jews came from. It’s steeped in history and tradition, yet has a forward movement to it that everyone can identify with. It’s hard to believe that it’s the 50th anniversary of the show. When I did it in college in 1970, it was still fairly new — the first production was still running on Broadway.”
Tracy enjoys directing the show’s characters, however, preparing for the show had its share of mishaps. Cast member Vince Mott, who plays the role of Nacham the Beggar, made his debut at Kona Community Hospital during one of the rehearsals.
“I flew off the stage and split open my jaw and got nine stitches,” said Mott. “Fortunately I didn’t break anything. I hit the stairs at the same time as somebody else, missed the second step and flew into the audience. They took me to the hospital where they sheared my beard, because I had to grow a beard for the role. Despite that, it’s a timeless story and it’s a lot of fun being a part of it.”
Set in oppressive turn-of-the-century czarist Russia, Tevye, portrayed by James Hurd, and his wife, Golde, played by Pamela Wong, are barely making ends meet in the poor village of Anatevka. On the rooftop of their small home, a Fiddler, portrayed by Daudi Micu, is playing a tune to visually express Tevye’s metaphor for the uncertain reality of Russian Jews. “Without our traditions, life would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof,” says Tevye.
In the capital of Russia, Marxists are organizing a revolution against the Czar, but in Anatevka, Tevye is more concerned with finding proper husbands for his defiant daughters and maintaining his religious traditions. While anxious to marry off his three oldest daughters, Tevye wants to ensure their suitability.
One of the eligible bachelors is Lazer the butcher, Miguel Montez, who is older than Tevye but wants to marry the eldest daughter, Tzeitel, Sarah Rouse. Lazar is a rich widower, so Tevye agrees. Tevye is disconcerted to find that Tzeitel has fallen in love with the poor tailor, Motel, Bryden Smith, for whom she begs her father to let her marry.
Realizing that times are changing, Tevye must choose between his daughter’s happiness and his beloved traditions. In the meantime, dangerous forces are threatening to destroy the way of life he has fought so hard to preserve. Tevye’s love for his family and his strong faith help him confront and survive the turmoil his family faces in war-torn Russia.
Tevye’s entire community is forced out of the village by Russian soldiers, in a bittersweet finale. Although animosities are extenuated, many close friendships come to an end as families move to different parts of the world. As Tevye and his family say their farewells to the village of Anatevka, the Fiddler is called to join them in their continued struggle for survival. “Fiddler on the Roof” successfully weaves music, dance, and laughter into a truly unforgettable show for the entire family.
APAC’s revival is produced by Barry and Gloria Blum. Joel Gimpel is music director, Marinella Savarese is vocal director, and Juanita Finkenberg is choreographer. Designers include boB Gage, lighting; Gerald Lucena, sets; Anne Waugh, costumes; Peter Schonberg, sound; Michael and Monica Sanders, hair and makeup; Cathy Riehle, beards; and Samantha Cook, props. Dance captain is Nora Frank, set dresser is David Fero, stage manager is Terry Ann Fujioka, and house manager is Cameron Bailey-Bram.
Other cast members include, Francine Alexander, Simon Ellis, David Fero, Lauren Gabbe, Sage Hecht, Vickie Higginson, Tiger Hurd, Tiffany Kutsunai, Joel Michaelson, Matt Mohi, Vince Mott, Riley Newton, Joe Savarese, Will Wong, and Trina Yerlick. In addition, an ensemble of performers will play various other characters. This group consists of Melissa Atwood, Kai Bram, Madison Bram, Kristen Cole, Sarah Crawford, Nora Frank, Pete Hoffman, John Hulen, Hanna Hurd, Logan Hurd, Hannah Kimmel, Mia Kriebl-Bruno, Anne-Marie Lambert, Barry Levine, Zea Levine, Miles Lugo, Victor Lugo, Veronica Marroquin, Mark Murdock, Renee Monell, James Resor, Marie-anne Rouse and Elizabeth Sharma.
The show opens today and plays through March 9, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, $20 and $25 and available online at alohatheatre.com, by phone at 322-9924, or at the box office beginning one hour prior to curtain time. Early ticket purchase is recommended for best seat selection. For more information, call the APAC office at 322-9924.