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‘Fiddler’ Cast Shines

In the opening scene, the three daughter; Shprintze (Ashlynn Desco), Tzeitel (Kat Singer), and Hodel (Kat Singer) sing about their role in the family.

Katie Brubaker, A&E editor (inside)

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The Stallion Theatre Company’s production of Fiddler on the Roof  by Joseph Stein was a wonderful rendition of the famed comedy that touches on the struggle between family and societal norms of  a Jewish village in 1905 Imperial Russia.

The set, while appearing bare, effectively illustrates the impoverished Jewish community. With hanging pieces of wooden furniture that delicately float from the rafters along with torn pieces of hebrew writing coming down from the ceiling, a strong sense of this era and the people inhabiting this village is created.

Early on in the play, the dominance of religion is established in the community. In spite of the village being located in Russia, a country who looked down upon those of the Jewish faith under the rule of the Tsar, the people still hold fast onto their religion and all of the traditions that accompany it.

The play establishes the distinct gender roles of the 20th Century in a Jewish community. The “Papa,” who is also the main character and narrator of the play, is depicted as the head of the home. This male dominated society is expressed further in the singing of the song “Tradition.” This tune is played multiple times throughout the play to essentially explain to the audience as to why things are the way they are in this community.

This society and its social structure appears so unusual and backwards to the modern eye, that it feels as if the song is brought up multiple times for the sole purpose of reminding the audience that this is simultaneously both a different time period and essentially a whole other world.

The “Mama” of the main family’s household is a more complex character. While being established as subordinate to her husband due to regulations of the community, she appears to be both strong willed and in charge. Furthermore, it seems that her husband fears her opinions and reactions and tries his best to please her. However, when it comes to communal matters such as arranging marriages, the Papa’s word is law.

While these distinctions for gender and the importance of tradition in this quaint village are cemented at the beginning of the play, young love begins to crumble these ancient walls.

Tzeitel, Papa’s eldest daughter, finds herself in love with a poor boy. While the couple decides they want to marry, Papa has already made plans for Tzeitel to marry the wealthy butcher of the village. This whole ordeal is completely foreign to Papa due to do the traditions that clearly state that he is the one to decide and arrange the marriages of his young. However, after witnessing the love that his daughter shares with the boy, he breaks from his beloved tradition. He chooses his daughter and her joy over the very foundation of the society he has grown up in.

After this trying encounter, his second daughter, Hodel, decides she wants to marry a man with ideas that were seen as revolutionary for this time period: the belief that girls too should be educated. This man does not have any means to provide for Papa’s daughter and lives a life of uncertainty. At first, Papa refuses his daughter’s pleas of  accepting their marriage, but eventually accepts due to the visible happiness of his daughter with this man. Once again, Papa discards his traditions in order to preserve the joy of his family.

However, there are some lines that will never be crossed. The third daughter, Chava, falls in love with a man who is not of the Jewish faith. At first, their affair is kept a secret, but when Chava expresses her love to her father and begs for acceptance, he refuses and disowns her completely.

This illustrates the utter importance and dominance of religion within this community. While family holds a very prominent place in the hearts of these people, religion is the most salient aspect of life and will be above family at all times.

The students involved in the play skillfully portrayed their characters from both another place and time period. This allowed for the entirety of the audience to feel emotionally attached and involved within each encounter, both positive and negative, within the family. Furthermore, the pure chemistry amongst the student group created a sense of actual family instead of a manufactured one.

Once again, The Stallion Theatre Company has put on a show that is both capable of evoking emotion and effectively grasps the attention of the audience and captivates them the entirety of the show.

 

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