Columbus High School Theater Director Chelsea Parker knows the importance of selecting a musical that her students are capable of tackling.
With “Fiddler on the Roof” serving as this year’s fall musical, Parker knows that her cast is eyeing a daunting challenge. But, she believes the group has the skills necessary to do it justice.
“We want to do shows that will bring in a good group of people, so we try to do shows that people have heard of,” Parker said. “And we have a large group of students who are really talented, and so we wanted to pick something that has the potential to have a large cast."
This year’s fall musical is being held at 7 p.m. Friday, along with 2 and 7 p.m. shows Saturday inside of the Nantkes Performing arts Center at Columbus Middle School, 2200 26th St. Tickets are $4 for students, $5 for adults and free with a C-stamp. “Fiddler on the Roof” is comprised of 45 cast members, 20-23 of which play key acting/singing roles, Parker said. An additional 20 people will be in the orchestra pit and about 25 will be working backstage.
The show is a rendition of the famed 1964 Broadway musical that centers on Tevye, a poor milkman and father of five daughters, living in the small village of Anatevka. Immersed in a tight-knit Jewish community, Tevye works at protecting his daughters and instilling in them traditional values during a time of changing social mores and growing anti-Semitism in Czarist Russia.
Cast members have been hard at work since parts were named following late-August auditions. Ryan Sims, who plays Teyve, acknowledged that prior to casting he hadn’t heard of “Fiddler on the Roof.” But, the senior said he’s a quick study and before long he knew all about the musical he was diving into head first.
“I had heard the name, but I honestly didn’t know anything about this show,” the senior said. “I kind of had no idea what I was doing – I had to study up quite a bit. Like watching the movie and seeing how he (Tevye) responds to certain things … I had no idea what I was doing, but now, we are good to go – we are there.”
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Joining Sims in her key role as Golde, Tevye’s wife, is senior Persephone Earle. As with Sims, Earle noted how she had to be brought up to speed on the background of “Fiddler on the Roof.” While she has been involved with theater since middle school, she said this is her first major high school theater role.
“I kind of died down a little (role wise) my first few years of high school, but I managed to work by way up," Earle said. "And it’s a lot of fun being a lead, for sure … I watched another high school performance of this and it was kind of hard diving into my character at first, because I’m usually not the type to play a mom, usually I am playing one of the younger children. So it was a step outside of my comfort zone, but I am so happy with my part."
After several months of preparation, Parker said she thinks the troupe is ready to bring their A-game.
Sims agreed, adding that he believes the two act, two-and-a-half-hour production will be memorable for all in attendance and those on stage.
“I’m pretty nervous because it’s my last one and I want it to be the best show that it possibly can be,” Sims said. “But I am really excited to go out with this show, because it really is a fantastic show … This will be a great last show and I am really proud that I get to share it with all these people.”
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.