Blackhawk Christian School will present “Fiddler on the Roof” on March 13 and 14. It’s a dream-come-true for director Rich Luedeke, who said he has wanted to stage “Fiddler on the Roof” for several years.
Although “Fiddler” has been presented at Blackhawk in the past, presentation of this musical is something that has to be timed just right. The cast has to be of the right age and ability level to handle things like the tricky bottle dance.
For this dance, five actors balance bottles on their hats. Luedeke emphasized that the bottles will not be attached to the hats — the dancers must use great care to keep the bottles from crashing to the ground. However there is a safety precaution they will use that Luedeke didn’t want to reveal.
One scene in the performance has a 9-foot-tall ghost. This will be portrayed by two actors with one balanced on top of the other.
And of course, there is the fiddler. “We had some offers from students who play violin,” said Luedeke. However, the role of the fiddler in “Fiddler on the Roof” is a fairly athletic one. Plus, the performance is done with prerecorded backup music. (The students provide live vocals.) In order to keep from doubling the sound of the fiddle, the Blackhawk crew felt it was better to have someone imitate playing a violin rather than try to do the movements with a real and valuable instrument.
The current fiddler, Chandler Pope, is doing well. “He is giving (the character) great fluidity,” praised Luedeke. And, for anyone who is concerned about the welfare of the instrument, Luedeke said that it will probably be a thrift store find with no strings that can break.
The story of “Fiddler on the Roof” follows the lives of Tevya and Golde, a Russian Jewish family that faces hardship and ultimately decides to move to a new country. The musical was based on a story written by Sholom Aleichem, and was also influenced by a painting titled “Music” by Marc Chagall. The original musical was presented in 1964.
The fiddler, said Luedeke, is a metaphor, standing for the traditions of the Jewish Russian people. Anytime something significant happens within the community, the fiddler is present. And, at the end of the musical, Tevya invites the fiddler to come with his family to their new home, in America. In this way, it is demonstrated that the culture of the people will live on.
Tevya will be played by Riley Dickinson, a junior at Blackhawk. He has been in performances at his school since sixth grade — and his breakout role was in the musical “Tarzan.” Tevya’s wife, Golde, is sophomore Sidney Kline. This will be her first time playing a lead role on the Blackhawk stage. Casting for this musical was completed by Luedeke, and rehearsals will be led by Darren McKown.