Come to Anatevka, a small village in pre-revolution czarist Russia in 1905. The Lopez Community Theater is staging “Fiddler on the Roof” March 6 through 9 at the Lopez Community Center.
“‘Fiddler on the Roof’ portrays the archetypal stories of the human condition and experience through the lives of Jewish villagers through their struggles with life and death issues, poverty and traditional and religious values in a changing world,” says Director Carol Steckler. “It’s still a valid story for us today in the year 2008.”
The story follows Tevye and Golde, who have five daughters, and their attempts to maintain family and religious traditions while outside influences make inroads upon their lives. They cope with the strong-willed actions of their three oldest daughters as each girl chooses to marry a man who is progressively further away from the established religious and social customs of the community. The play ends with a political decree that forces the Jews from their village.
The title of the musical come from “The Fiddler” as a metaphor for survival. “Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as, as … as a fiddler on the roof!” says Tevye in the opening scene of the play.
“Don’t expect to see a cinematic version of the musical,” says Steckler. “We are telling a simple folk tale with piano and voice. You’ll be amazed to see people you know portray the story with grace and elegance. The collective of our island village becomes another persona — and out of it comes a kind of magic.”
Steckler has a long history of staging plays with themes of social justice. Most recently, she directed the community theatre productions of “The Moon is Down” and “Grapes of Wrath.” “I’ve never done a musical before,” said Steckler. The idea came when four actors in “The Moon is Down” spontaneously sang “O Canada” in four-part harmony at rehearsal one night last spring. “I said, let’s do a musical next time!” said Steckler. One of the singers, John Helding, became Steckler’s co-director in charge of music for the “Fiddler” production.
Helding says, “Carol and I chose ‘Fiddler’ because of the powerful themes, the role of traditions in life and the struggles of oppressed people. As co-directors, we bring our differences, but we have the advantage of two pairs of eyes molding the production.” Helding has a background in musical theater from high school and college. “I’m involved because it is important to bring art to people and to allow people’s gifts to shine,” says Helding.
The Lopez Community Land Trust and the community non-profit radio station KLOI-FM have underwritten the cost of the production. All proceeds will be split between the two non-profits. “Both organization’s missions are to foster the community,” says Steckler.
“Fiddler on the Roof” will be presented Thursday through Sunday, March 6 to 8 at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, March 9 there will be a matinee at 1:30 p.m. and an evening show at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available at Blossom Natural Foods, Islehaven Books and Isabel’s Espresso or from the Lopez Community Center office. Dress rehearsals will be held on Tuesday, March 4 and Wednesday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are free but at $5 donation at the door is suggested.
“Get your tickets soon,” says Steckler. “The Saturday, March 8 performance is already sold out!”