Arts and Entertainment

Ovation!'s 'Fiddler on the Roof' is all about engagement

Scott Corey is Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” Ovations!’ production             scheduled for Dec. 4-20 at the Bainbridge High School Theater. - Courtesy Photo Ovation!
Scott Corey is Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” Ovations!’ production scheduled for Dec. 4-20 at the Bainbridge High School Theater.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo Ovation!

So much goes into a theater production: costumes, set design, casting, lighting, make-up, choreography, marketing – At the end of the day though, it’s really about telling a good story, said Ron Milton, Ovation!’s Artistic Director and the show’s director.

He’s picked a doozy, This year, too: "Fiddler on the Roof." Your toe is already tapping.

“It’s a story about ordinary people in extraordinary times,” he said.

Having played in a production in New York years ago, he promised himself that if he ever had the chance as a director, he’d “love to do it as a gift back to the community.”

This is the year, and its gift couldn’t have come at a better time – a story of hope in uncertain times.

“We’re not just putting on a play,” Milton said. “In a sense, we’re saying, ‘Come on, come play with us. Come with us into this story.’”

He said it takes effort on the actors’ parts to stay focused and present throughout the performance in order to keep the audience engaged. If done well, he said, reality temporarily suspends and the audience is transported into another world.

In this case, they’ll find themselves in Anatevka, a small village in Russia circa 1905. It’s a story that deals with engagement of another kind: marriage proposals, and specifically those of the daughters of Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman.

It’s a story of people caught in currents beyond their own control: of cultural change, a time of unrest, and of personal passions. You know, life.

But this is life in dark times – and the story hits close to home. In fact, David Cowan, the actor who plays The Rabbi in the Ovation! play had family from the very area this story focuses upon. As intolerance escalated, entire villages, 5,000 people and larger, simply disappeared overnight.

But even in darkness, the smallest light penetrates.

“The holidays are a time to celebrate being alive,” Milton said. There may be slicker productions this season, but Milton said the heart and soul of theater is alive and well in hundreds of thousands of community theaters across the country where the focus is on content, not spectacle.

“Spectacle doesn’t stay with you the way a good story does,” he said.

You’ll likely be humming tunes from this one for weeks. And you’ll have plenty to choose from: Tradition, To Life!, Matchmaker, Far From the Home I Love, Miracle of Miracles, Anatevka and Do You Love Me? Sunrise, sunset...

Corinna Lapid-Munter is music director and conductor for the production, which is presented with a live orchestra.

Barbara Klingberg, an experienced costumer with Broadway credits, is costume designer, assisted by Kathy Doll. Babette Gazarian-Cherné co-choreographed the production with Milton.

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