​Cedarville prepares classic ‘Fiddler’

Tuneful score, touching story still appeals.​

Cedarville University delivers Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s timeless 1964 Tony Award-winning musical “Fiddler on the Roof” beginning Thursday in the DeVries Theatre of the Stevens Student Center.

Based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem and set in 1905, “Fiddler” concerns poor milkman Tevye and his loving family adjusting to change within and beyond their tiny Russian village of Anatevka. Engaging themes of family, community, religion and tradition fuel the musical’s multigenerational magnetism.

“The great appeal of this show is its sense of faith and a sense of commitment to our neighbors, the people we love that pull us through dark times,” said director Diane Merchant, professor of theater. “I particularly love the fact that Tevye is not afraid to talk directly to God. He knows, understands and loves God enough to not be afraid to question him.”

Bock and Harnick’s remarkable, incredibly tuneful score, one of the finest in the musical theater canon, includes such gems as “Tradition,” “Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Anatevka.” Merchant credits the score for the show’s enduring popularity, but is also mindful of how the material smoothly navigates comedy and drama.

“For the audience, the beauty of the music is a plus,” she said. “These songs are not inaccessible. The lyrics in particular, more than many musicals, advance the plot and contribute to the story in a unique way. ‘Fiddler’ is not a trendy show that falls out of favor.”

The principals include Robert Rhodes (Teyve), Anna Caroline Porter (Golde), Chandler Hull (Tzeitel), Madison Hart (Chava), V Scites (Hodel), David Widder-Varhegyi (Motel), Adam Joseph Silorey (Perchik), Calvin Hitchock (Fyedka), Stephen Gayer (Lazar Wolf), and Raven Simmons (Yente).

The artistic team includes vocal director Kristin Graves, conductor Carlos Elias, scenic and lighting designer Robert Clements (with lighting assistance by Megan Howell), costumers Debbie Hamrick and Kristin Kirby, and choreographer Carrie Anthony.

“Carrie’s amazing choreography is especially ambitious,” Merchant said.

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Contact this contributing writer at rflorence2@gmail.com.