Fiddler on the Roof is a classic piece of musical theater that first debuted in 1964. Gray’s Creek High School brings this classic to Fayetteville March 30-April 1. “Fiddler is a big show. We are not doing the junior version. We are doing the entire show. This year, we have been very lucky to have Mr. and Mrs. Vrabel and Mrs. Campbell on board with us. In high school theater, we have to do it all ourselves. We don’t have lighting, sound, costume or makeup departments we can depend on,” said Claudia Warga-Dean, representative for Gray’s Creek High School. “However, we do have people such as the Vrabels, who helped us out immensely this year, going over singing, dancing, blocking, set, whatever was needed, so we can bring the show together on time. Also, the parents built our amazing set.”
The primary focus of the Gray’s Creek theater and chorus departments, though, are the students and their education. “Another reason we chose the show is because it comes with characters that the students really had to research and understand,” Warga-Dean said.
Theater takes a lot of time, effort and professionalism from the actors and the production crew. Additionally, many of the shows tackle very difficult issues. Fiddler on the Roof deals with some serious and relevant themes like tradition and faith. The fact that the faculty chose such a difficult play for the students speaks volumes. “In the past, we have done a lot of comedies. However, after our fall production of Infinite Black Suitcase this year, which was an intense drama about how people in a small town deal with death, we realized that our students are very capable of taking on heavier issues,” Warga-Dean said.
Caleb Brigman leads the show as Tevye. “He is doing some wonderful work as Tevye. He really embodies the warmness of Tevye along with his struggle between family, tradition and a changing world. He also carries the weariness of the hardships that came along with living in that time and place. He is mature beyond his years,” said Dean-Warga. She added that Bobbie Hand does a great job as Golde, who is the glue that holds the family together.
“Devon Cessna is our Perchik. Devon is so dedicated and very talented. He always goes the extra mile. Last year he learned how to tap dance for Once Upon a Mattress,” said Dean-Warga. She added that “The three daughters, Celeste Tice, Audrey Forman, and Bethanny Drake, really have a nice chemistry together and have all worked hard to bring out the different personalities of the daughters. Bethanny just received a full ride to Methodist University for music.”
Dean-Warga also noted there are several Gray’s Creek students who participate in local community theatre at CFRT, FTCC and the Gilbert as well. A few of those actors are Kate McCosh, Audrey Forman, Courtney Peters and Devon Cessna. “We have a couple of the students from the football team that are a part of the play. Joey Creekmore is on the football team and plays the Rabbi. Nash Burke has done football and he helped construct set pieces for the show. I think that is a great thing. Our theatre department is not closed off. We have football players, band, art students...it is really diverse,” she added.
The production is possible thanks to the collaboration of the chorus and theater departments at the school. “I hope the community will come out to see the show because it’s a wonderful thing that Gray’s Creek has such wonderfully talented kids. They are so capable of giving an authentic performance and really making the plight of the Jewish community in Russia at the turn of the century feel close to us. They are making connections between historical and current events that are important as they become a part of a global society,” said Chorus teacher and Co-Director Amy Stovall.
Fiddler on the Roof will run March 30, 31 and April 1 in the Gray’s Creek High School Auditorium. The shows Thursday and Friday start at 7 p.m. The Saturday showing is a matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door of from cast members.