The Shippensburg high school Drama Club will present “Fiddler on the Roof” next week in what promises to be a powerful, heart-filled performance.
The club will perform the musical at the Shippensburg high school auditorium on Thursday, March 9, at 7 p.m.; Friday, March 10, at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, March 11, at 2 and 7 p.m.
Director Luke Reed, a Shippensburg high school alumnus in his second year at the helm, said in an interview last week that he wanted the club to build upon last year’s very successful presentation of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
This year’s musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” tells the story of a Jewish milkman named Tevye, his wife, Golde, and their five daughters, living out a simple yet precarious existence in a shtetl, a small Jewish community, on the western bounds of early 20th century Imperialist Russia. As each of Tevye's three eldest daughters marry off to increasingly less traditional suitors, the outside world grows more and more hostile toward their way of life. “Fiddler on the Roof” is a story of fighting for love and survival, moving toward hope, and searching for home.
Reed said the club members overwhelmingly voted to do “Fiddler on the Roof” from a list of three choices he gave them.
“It’s one of the greatest written musicals of all time. It’s powerful,” he said, adding the large cast gives more students more lines and time on stage – giving them more experience.
Students have diligently worked on choreography and memorizing lines since early December, putting in long hours weekdays after school.
Reed said the musical features wonderful sets, phenomenal music from the pit orchestra, and festive dances. The musical will also include about 15 middle school student actors who will participate in some larger scenes.
“The choreography is elaborate and fun,” he said, noting a wedding dance scene will place the spotlight on five dancers that will balance a wine bottle on top of their heads while dancing. He said those dancers have practiced and practiced, and they plan on using real wine bottles during the performance.
“There are no tricks, no velcro, no magnets. It’s one of the most iconic moments of the show,” he said.
Reed noted the show rests heavily on the the shoulders of the main character, Tevye, played by Luke Hershey. He said Hershey is up to the task of playing Tevye.
“He’s doing some really honest, powerful work,” Reed said.
Hershey, who played the role of the Beast in last year’s musical, said playing Tevye is a daunting role.
“It requires a lot of energy to play the role,” he said. “He doesn’t take anything lightly.”
Tevye tries to do what is best for his family, Hershey said, because he has a very big heart.
“I think that the show really highlights the beauty of humanity,” he said.
The senior noted it was bittersweet to be performing in his final high school musical.
“I think that it’s getting to the point that we’ve been together so long that we feel like one big family,” he said. “It’s a bittersweet experience, but these are some of the best times of our lives.”
Sophomore Mady Rosenberry plays one of Tevye’s daughters, Chava.
“She really stands for what she believes in, even if it goes against her family,” she said. The role requires her to take on memorizing more lines than she ever has before, but she said she is excited about the musical.
Senior Titus Manetta, who played Gaston last year, is cast as Lazar Wolf in the upcoming show, a wealthy butcher in town. His character aims to marry Tevye’s oldest daughter, Tzeitel, but things don’t go according to plan.
“I am the big man in town, running after a woman and getting rejected. I’m enjoying it as much as I did last year,” Manetta said with a laugh, referring to Gaston’s failed attempts to woo Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.”
Manetta also said the club’s choice to do “Fiddler on the Roof” was fitting given everything going on in the world today.
“It brings an appreciation of different cultures and traditions,” he said.
Junior Allison Findley, who plays Tzeitel, admitted she was initially unsure about the club performing “Fiddler on the Roof,” because she didn’t think it would be as exciting as “Grease.” However, the musical’s story won her over, and she hopes it will win over the audience, too.
“It’s a great story and filled with lots of emotion,” she said, adding they are trying their best to represent the Jewish culture.
She noted she was shocked to learn someone spray painted a swastika on the spirit rock near the high school a few weeks ago, and she thinks doing the musical is fitting to show that anti-Semitism is not acceptable.
Senior Stephanie Jones, who plays Yente, the matchmaker, also said she was shocked when she heard of the swastika vandalism. She said it made the musical even more meaningful for the actors.
“The musical shows why that’s wrong,” Jones said.
Senior Jarrett Landreth, who plays Motel, the tailor who eventually marries Tzeitel, said he hopes the musical will have an impact on the audience.
“It hits a lot of emotions,” he said. “We’re all collaborating to make this a great performance.”
Reed said the actors felt like they had to take action after hearing of the swastika vandalism.
“No matter what side you are on in the political climate, it (the musical) has an important message about what happens when you mistrust foreigners,” Reed said. “You’re seeing the dawn of what eventually leads to the Holocaust.”
Reed said it will be a family-appropriate show, but a few scenes do depict violence.
“There might be some moments that might frighten small children,” he said.
The musical is directed by Reed. Others leaders who work to create the musical are: vocal director Amy Jones, choreographer Jason Reed, production manager Suzanne Lloyd, orchestra conductor Robert Maag, technical director Caitlin Howley, and middle school musical director Jennifer Deibler.
Tickets for “Fiddler on the Roof” are available at: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2875502. Tickets are also on sale Monday, March 6, and Tuesday, March 7, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. each day at the high school’s box office located near the high school auditorium. The tickets cost $12 for adults and $10 for students (there is a small transaction fee for online ticket purchases), which is a $2 increase from last year. However, if you bring a non-perishable, unexpired canned food item to the show, you will receive a $2 discount at the door. Maximum $2 off per ticket. The food items will then be donated to King’s Kettle Food Pantry.