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"Fiddler on the Roof' maintains the musical traditions of SLT

Monday, February 24, 2003

Cast members of "Fiddler on the Roof" rehearse for Thursday's opening night.
SIKESTON - There are traditions worth upholding.

To begin its 45th season, the Sikeston Little Theatre will restage the musical "Fiddler on the Roof."

First produced in 1973 by the group, the play will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday then again at 7:30 p.m. March 7 and 8 and at 2 p.m. March 9. All shows are at the Albritton Mayer Center for the Arts, 506 S. Kingshighway.

Based on life in a small turn-of-the-century Jewish-Russian village, the plot of "Fiddler" draws on themes of change and progress. It is set on the eve of the Russian revolution as families are trying to maintain their local and family traditions in a changing Russia, according to Lynn Colley with the Sikeston Little Theatre.

"And tradition is also an apt description of the continuing fine work of the Sikeston Little Theatre as it restages this ever popular musical," Colley continued. "This production also marks the 30th musical production staged by the SLT in its 45 seasons."

He noted the play's opening song, "Tradition," sets the stage for the show as it introduces the village and the characters.

Director Steve Beydler, who also directed "Godspell," the group's first play in the new Albritton-Mayer Center in February 2002, called this opening number an impact scene.

All of the play's 50 cast members participate in the song.

Leading the singing in the opening is Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman, played by Ken Shields. Terry Sapp performs in the role of his wife, Golda, and also serves as the production's musical director.

Conflict erupts in the family when the couple's first daughter, Anatevka (played by Jessica Felker Carle) decides she would rather marry Motel (Steve Fowler) rather than Laza Wolf (David Dennis). The match of Anatevka and Wolf was arranged by Yente, the matchmaker, a role being recreated by Vivian Boyer, who played Yente in the SLT's original production.

Others taking lead roles in the production are Carly Wilburn and Tiffany Smith, two more of Tevye's daughters, and their suitors, David Jones and Ryan Gibson. Peter Jones performs the role of the fiddler.

Beydler said he was pleased with the number of people who turned out for auditions and took parts in the musical.

"People who have dropped by are amazed by how many people are involved," said the director. "And everybody is so talented. We worked hard to put the right voices together, the right people as the right characters. Everybody is suited to their parts."

He also added praise to the cast for their musical talents. "Everyone is so talented. People will be amazed at the sound."

Assisting in the musical are Ed Cowan, who is in charge of the orchestra, with piano accompaniment provided by Harry Howard. Diane Jarvis is the assistant director and the assistant to the director is Dee Beydler.

The original play by Jerome Robbins was scored by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. After its first season on Broadway, the production was nominated for 10 Tony awards and won nine, including best musical.

Little Theatre memberships are currently on sale and may be obtained by contacting any board member. Memberships entitle the holder to attend a performance of the three productions to be staged during the year.

General admission tickets for "Fiddler on the Roof" are now on sale and may be obtained for $6 at Collins Music or by calling the Theatre at 481-0255. All seats are reserved. Tickets at the door are $7.50.