CRYSTAL LAKE – One of Broadway’s most revered plays is hitting the Crystal Lake Central auditorium stage. The 1964 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” is based on the stories about Tevye the Dairyman by Sholem Aleichem. Because of current health concerns, it primarily will be open only to student participants and family for a shortened run.
“Fiddler on the Roof” is the story of the small, traditional town of Anatevka, Russia. Here, the Jewish and Russian townspeople live a very delicate balance. Tevye the Dairyman, the story’s protagonist, is challenged when his eldest daughter, Tzeitel, begs him to let her marry a poor tailor she is in love with instead of a butcher he has chosen for her. Tevye is forced to choose between his daughter’s happiness and tradition while also trying to keep away other forces at work that threaten to destroy the life he is trying to preserve.
“This play is a great fit to feature the talent we have in our theater program,” Crystal Lake Central Choir Director Kimberly Scherrer said. “The lessons that the show teaches us are strong life lessons for our students who will be working with it, as well as our community who will be here to see it.”
Scherrer is the producer and vocal director for the show’s cast, which boasts 110 total students from freshmen through senior classes taking part as actors, pit orchestra and crew.
“It’s been really great immersing ourselves in another culture. We have a low percentage of students that come from a Jewish tradition and we’ve had a really good time learning about and honoring that culture in the practice of our performance,” Scherrer said.
CLC senior, Willem Bracher, 17, plays the role of Tevye and said he has put in a lot of time rehearsing. Bracher participated in musicals in junior high, but didn’t think it was really “his thing” until his freshman year at CLC.
“My freshman year, I tried out for and was in ‘Sister Act’ and I’ve been doing it ever since,” Bracher said. “I fell in love with Central’s program, directing team and student body and this has become the place where I spend most of my time.”
Bracher’s family, including his parents, grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins will attend to see him play Tevye. Bracher said he is excited to play the role, although like any other, it does come with some challenges.
“One of the difficulties is that there’s a very big difference between his [Tevye’s] life and mine,” Bracher said. “He’s an older man, with five daughters, who labors in the fields. He has a tough life and is in a minority population under an oppressed government. The challenge is to do justice for this character. A lot of people connect with this character. I’ll try to embody this message that the show has and convey it to the audience every night.”
Bracher says the message is about learning to change things as a family and accept change as the circumstances and times we live in are changing.
“Our cast is exceptionally strong, which harkens to why I chose this particular piece this year,” Scherrer said. “They have a very strong choral ensemble sound and our actors have great depth in their characters. The role of Tevye, which carries the whole show, requires a talent base that is not typical of a high school student. It’s a show we don’t normally consider unless we have a student able to carry the depth of that character, and Willem is able to do that.”
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