There is a reason that Fiddler on the Roof is one of the longest running Broadway plays in history. “The words, the music, the script are all great,” said actress Patti Cucco. “It’s concise, funny and beautifully written.” Cucco is set to play Yente the matchmaker in Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s upcoming rendition of the play, which opens Jan. 23.
The cast is excited about the performance for a variety of reasons. This production is not a spin-off or a reinterpretation. It sticks to the original script in telling the story of a Jewish family in 1905 Tzarist Russia. Yente, the matchmaker, arranges a marriage for Tzeital, the oldest daughter of Reb Tevye, the milkman. Tzeital is in love with Motel, the poor tailor. Going against tradition, the youngsters go to Reb and ask permission to get married. As each daughter comes to her father and asks to marry outside tradition, Reb struggles to hold his family together and honor the Jewish customs he holds so dear all the while doing his best to keep them safe in an anti-Jewish environment.
Mallory Cunnigham plays Tzeitel and is drawn to the character because “... it is such a powerful story about family, about life, about love. It will make you want to go home and call your family, whoever you love most, and reconnect with them.”
“It’s about your village, whoever that village is,” said Leslie Flom, Cape Fear Regional Theatre marketing director. “Whether that is the family you were born into, your best friends that are your family, your theater family. It is about the people you are closest to.”
Model, played by Sean Powell, is at the bottom of the social ladder when he falls in love with Tzeital. She is the first person to encourage Model and tell him that he can be successful. This is Powell’s third time performing in Fiddler on the Roof, but the first time he has played Model. “On eof the great things about getting to play different characters in this play is getting to know each of them as people and how they deal with problems,” said Powell. “The time they lived in is so different and their problems are so far removed from what we deal with. We get upset when our phone battery dies. It makes you think about things like ‘What would I do if I had to leave my home and family and could only take with me what I could carry on my back?’”
The play first debuted on Broadway in 1964 and even those who are not familiar with the story will likely recognize the tunes.
“People will know the score,” said Cucco. There are so many layers and components that work together here. Everyone is likely to take away something different. “People come away thinking, feeling, even humming. I think they will feel good about the hopefullness in Fiddler on the Roof.”
The play runs through February 16 and will have matinee showings on Feb. 1 and 15. Visit www.cfrt.org to learn more or call the box office at 323-4233.
Photo: CFRT welcomes Bill Nolte as Tevye. Fiddler is Mr. Nolte’s CFRT debut. His Broadway credits include: La Cage Aux Folles, The Producers, Amour, Jane Eyre, 1776, King David and A Christmas Carol.