Starlighters brings ‘Fiddler’ to life for first time

Posted August 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm

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PHOTO: The cast becomes the iconic rooftops of Anatevka to open the show on the Starlighters Main Stage for their production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. (Photos by Emily Burds)

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PHOTO: Ashley Keenan (left) and Courtney Kayser (right) play two of Tevye’s beloved daughters as they knead dough for a family meal.

 

By Emily Burds, Express Intern

“Tradition!” The cast of Starlighters newest production yells. Tradition is a central theme to the beloved musical “Fiddler on the Roof” that Starlighters has decided to tackle for the end-of-summer show.

Opening on Friday night, the show will run August 2, 3, 4 and 9, 10, 11 with tickets on sale through their box office or online now.

The show’s director, William Wims, said that despite Starlighters long history, “Fiddler” has never been done on their stage before. With that in mind, the Board of Directors wanted to make sure they had a wealth of talent to choose from when casting the show, which is why they decided to have the show in the summer.

“With this time of year, we can catch the college students who are home as well as the younger children who don’t have to worry about school,” Wims explained.

This tactic worked for musical director Janet Jeffers Bergman, who says this is one of the best chorus’ she has ever worked with.

“This is such a chorus heavy show so having the talent that we have is tremendous. I have never heard a cast sound so complete right from the start,” she explained. Within the chorus, six of the members are or are training to be music educators or performers.

“That kind of experience is hard to come by,” Bergman explained. She was one of the many people advocating to do this show, which she feels is perfect for community theatre with such a wide range of ages.

“We have kids from 13 on up. We have newcomers and veterans working side by side,” Wims explained of his large cast.

With “Fiddler” being such a well-known story, the big question was how the directorial team was going to approach it for this performance.

“We are working with a minimal set,” Wims said. A minimal set means that the set is very scarce and is generally created by moveable props rather than large constructions or backdrops. “I knew that we had to work within the size of the show as well as the limitations of the stage,” Wims explained. He feels that the audience will be able to fill in the pieces even if they aren’t physically seeing a barn or a rooftop.

With this being Wims first musical as a director, he knew he had to create something that the audience would be in love with, sticking with not only the “tradition” of the show but the “tradition” of Starlighters as well that has produced not only many great shows throughout their soon-to-be 40 seasons but many great actors and performers as well.

“We are expecting a good run,” Wims explained as he talked about how their first Sunday performance is nearly sold out. And audiences are sure to be singing along, according to Janet who explained how a few changes were made musically to the show but nothing so jarring that audiences who know the classic tunes can’t handle.

As for what happens after the show, Starlighters will begin work on their next production, “Butterflies are Free” that is being directed by Cameron Thomas who is a cast member in “Fiddler.” For those interested, auditions will be held Aug. 11, 12, and 13, at 7 p.m. on the Main Stage. More information on this and upcoming shows can be found on their website, www.starlighters.org.

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