“Fiddler on the Roof” comes to the Norton Center
March 1, 2012 By Elizabeth Trollinger
the Norton Center stage at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 4 in
The Tony Award®-winning musical “Fiddler on the Roof” will take the Norton Center stage at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 4 in Newlin Hall. Members of the Centre community are anticipating the event with excitement, recalling how the musical has influenced them in the past.
“Music and musicals were an important part of my life as a young person,” says Centre President John A. Roush. “I count it a joy to have participated in several big shows as a junior high and high school student. Never got the chance to be in ‘Fiddler,’ but on my ‘bucket list’ is to play Tevye and, in particular, sing ‘If I Were a Rich Man!’”
Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts Matthew Hallock appreciates the production not just because of its story, but because of its place in the history of the theatre.
“‘Fiddler on the Roof’ holds a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons. It was originally designed by one of the giants of scenic design, Boris Aronson, a Russian Jew who emigrated in the early 1920s,” Hallock says. “He began working professionally in The Yiddish Art Theatre, where he introduced a new, Eastern-European aesthetic to the American stage. He eventually went on to work with the powerhouse collaborative team of Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince on ‘Company,’ ‘A Little Night Music,’ ‘Follies’ and ‘Pacific Overtures’ – towering productions in the arc of musical theatre history.”
Hallock also lauds “Fiddler on the Roof” for its accessibility to the audience.
“I love ‘Fiddler’ because it helps us explore a very modern question: how do we survive in a world that is constantly changing? Do we rely upon our traditions? Do we shed them for new ways? Or can we look at what is essential in life and renegotiate with ourselves so we can keep on moving forward?” Hallock says, adding, “Oh — and the music is gorgeous.”
Associate Dean and Professor of Religion Beth Glazier-McDonald recalls first hearing the plot of the musical in its original format in her youth.
“Sholem Aleichem, who wrote ‘Tevye’s Daughters’ in 1894, was one of my father’s favorite authors, and I grew up hearing his stories at bedtime as a young girl,” she says. “I even learned some Yiddish — the language in which Sholem Aleichem wrote — listening to my dad. As I recognized later, my father wove his own father’s story into his retelling of Aleichem’s tales.”
Glazier-McDonald feels a personal connection to “Fiddler on the Roof” through the main character, Tevye, and his similarities to her grandfather.
“In my grandfather’s life, as in Tevye’s, there was a tension between the old ways that have preserved the Jewish people for millennia and modern ways that sometimes threatened to tear families apart,” Glazier-McDonald says. “One of my grandfather’s sisters, Miriam — like Tevye’s daughter, Tzeitel — refused to marry the man the matchmaker chose, and begged her father to let her marry her childhood sweetheart. Sadly, that marriage never took place because of the pogroms that forced so many Jews to find new homes.”
“Clearly, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is one of my Broadway favorites,” Glazier-McDonald continues. “I love the story, the music and the threads that link me to my past.”
For more information on “Fiddler on the Roof,” call 1-877-HIT-SHOW or visit nortoncenterforthearts.com.
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