Tenafly’s Rendition of a Classic: Fiddler on the Roof

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Tenafly’s Rendition of a Classic: Fiddler on the Roof

Serenity Cray, Senior Editor

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From November 16th to the 19th, Tenafly High School will be performing the timeless classic, Fiddler on the Roof. The musical takes place in a small village in Ukraine, called Anatevka, during the 1900s. The show expresses the simple values of love, tradition, and family while highlighting the persecution of Jews during the time period of imperialist Russia.

The top of the show opens with the song “Tradition,” which features all of the townspeople singing their different roles in Anatevka. Many of the scenes relate closely to the different situations that occur in everyday family life. Tevye, played by Omer Raz (’20), is the father of five daughters and the head of the household. One of Raz’s most important roles as the father in Fiddler on the Roof is to marry off all of his daughters to proper suitors. The conflicting ideas of arranged marriages and finding true love are themes seen all throughout the musical. The show expresses that through any hardships the value of love will always prevail. The number “To Life,” sung during Tzeitel’s wedding, proclaims the importance and joyful celebration of a traditional Jewish wedding. During the scene, the entire town attends the wedding, which shows the tightly-knit nature of Anatevka.

Omer Raz (’20) plays the main character, Tevye, in the show.

The show puts a large emphasis on the Jewish traditions that take place in Anatevka. Religion is a part of everyone’s life in the village, and the show delves deep into each character’s relationship with God. “One of the biggest challenges is getting the cast to connect with the Jewish traditions and have them understand the importance of religion in the show,” said Mr. Ahn-Cooper, when asked about one of the hardest characteristics of directing this show. Most of the cast is not a part of the Jewish faith, but the cast members that are have offered up their knowledge to help other members grasp Jewish culture. Abigail Pomeranz (’19) invited the cast to her house for a traditional Shabbat dinner to allow everyone to connect with their characters on a more personal level. Through this use of method acting, the characters and the actors start to become one on stage.

Although love is a prevalent subject in the show, tragedy underscores it. The musical takes place in 1905 during the height of anti-Semitism in the world. The population of Anatevka is predominantly Jewish, and many citizens are forced out of the village because of their religious beliefs. “I hope people see the history behind the show and take every heartbreaking and happy scene to heart,” said Dene Chung (’19).“These are all events that happened to families in real life and it’s important that people understand that.” Through songs and lines, viewers can see the oppression that Tevye and his family face.

Dene Chung (’19) plays Golde in the show.

The Tenafly debut of this show comes at a tragic point in American history. On Saturday, October 27th, eleven people were killed during a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This tragedy greatly impacted the cast and elevated the entire meaning of this show. “Antisemitism is something that is still very prevalent in our society,” said Mr. Ahn-Cooper. “I am glad to share our version of the story with a community that is definitely suffering at this time.” During the opening night of the show, the theatre department will collect donations from the audience, and all proceeds will be directly sent to the Tree of Life Synagogue, along with a letter from the cast.

Fiddler on the Roof is a powerful musical that encapsulates the
joy and hardships of life. No matter what ethnic group or religion, this show has a universal message for everyone:  love and community connect us all in unimaginable ways.

Come see Tenafly’s rendition of Fiddler on the Roof on November 16th, 17th, and 19th at the Collins-Tall Auditorium.

Click here to purchase your tickets.

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