Red Deerians will be in for a classic musical treat with Koinonia Christian School’s production of Fiddler on the Roof.
Directed by Annette Bradley and Jacqui Fletcher, the show runs May 8, 10, 11-12 at Deer Park Alliance Church. Curtain is 7 p.m. each night. There are also matinees on May 11-12 at 12:30 p.m.
Bradley said the school found an ideal production to stage with the charming Fiddler on the Roof, as there is plenty of room to showcase the talents of students, staff and the school community at large.
“We opened it up to the school community – that meant alumni, staff, parents, grandparents and the students could be involved. That was perfect, because then we ended up having 55 people audition. Ultimately we have people in it from ages six to 60.”
For Bradley, who also teaches music at Red Deer College, it’s a bit of a family affair as well – her talented husband George is playing the title role of Tevye, and her son Grant and daughter Carolyn, who is also a gifted fiddler, are also featured in the cast which numbers 39.
Other principle roles include Crista Oke as Tevye’s wife Golde, Constance Renkema as the matchmaker and Wayne Pederson as Lazar.
As for George’s portrayal as Tevye, Annette said her husband has really embraced the story. He’s even sporting a bushy beard which he grew over the past several months just for the part.
“He’s doing an excellent job; he gets right into character and of course he’s got a strong voice and the stage presence to carry it off.”
Set in the turbulent years of Tsarist Russia in 1905, Fiddler on the Roof is based on the book by Joseph Stein with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.
It’s based on a story called Tevye and His Daughters and Other Tales by Sholem Aleichem that he wrote in Yiddish and published in 1894.
The tale focuses on Tevye, the father of five daughters and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while withstanding the growing pressure of societal influences. He must also cope with his strong-willed eldest three daughters. Each girl’s choice of a husband moves further away from the customs of Tevye’s faith. And as the play progresses, the family also faces the Tsar’s edict which evicts Jews from their village.
The original Broadway production opened in 1964, and was the first musical theatre run in history to surpass 3,000 performances. It remains Broadway’s 15th longest running show. It was also made into a feature film back in 1971, landing three Academy Awards.
Meanwhile, the scale of the local production has been a challenge, albeit a delightful one.
“It’s been challenging and stretching, but also wonderful to see it come together,” she said. Another inspiration has been seeing how volunteers have signed up by the dozens to help out on a number of fronts.
“I would think there are more than 100. I would also like to mention Mike Martin who has been our head of set design and construction.”
Part of the appeal of the legendary story is its powerful musical score, featuring such classic and memorable songs as Sunrise, Sunset, If I Were a Rich Man, To Life, Do You Love Me and Matchmaker, Matchmaker.
“The music will be comforting to the ears.”
As Annette points out, the universality and sense of timelessness that exudes from the themes of the story have also lent themselves to the story’s enduring popularity and longevity. There’s a bit of everything, from light, happy and humorous moments to times of heartbreak, loss and separation.
Seeing the material on the page be transformed into a colourful, vibrant production has been a joy. “I think it’s fabulous. The lyrics to the songs are still as good today as they were 50 years ago. This takes place in about 1905, and the music in it that’s used to portray the story is long-lasting. It’s a really human story.
“We hope people appreciate the quality of the music, the timelessness of the story and how it gives you those feelings from laughter to sadness to joy. We also hope people leave saying ‘Wow, that Koinonia Christian School community did a bang-up job’.”
For tickets, call 403-346-1839.