“Fiddler” a Hit at CIU

November 18, 2014

By Brittany Bradley

CIU Student Writer

The CIU Players captivated the Columbia International University community with three riveting performances of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Set in the pale of imperial Russia, the musical is based on the book by Joseph Stein with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.

“Fiddler on the Roof” comically relates the struggle of poor Jewish milkman, Tevye (Jeremy Reasoner), his wife Golde (Sarah Strobolakos), and their five daughters. The musical takes place in the quaint town of Anatevka, a community immersed in Jewish tradition.

“Without tradition,” Tevye says, “our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.”

Tradition is broken in Act I as Tevye’s oldest daughter Tzeitel (Emily Calder), foregoes tradition and chooses love, pledging herself to the tailor’s son, Motel (Adam Hobbs). Tevye finds himself in quite the quandary, as he had previously agreed to give Tzeitel to the town’s drunken butcher, Lazar Wolf (Allan Reinhard). Alas, help comes from beyond the grave as deceased relatives visit Tevye in a dream and bless Tzeitel and Motel’s union. Their wedding is a festive time of song, dance, and celebration, but is rudely interrupted by a Russian Constable (Peter Hairgrove) with orders to unnerve the town through brute force, a warning of what is to come. The complex plot thickens as Russian threats loom over the already unsettled town of Anatevka.

A traveling teacher known as Perchik (Jacob Calder) also challenges the traditional framework and encourages Tevye’s daughters to look beyond their small town and into the changing world around them. Perchik later betroths himself to another of Tevye’s daughters, Hodel (Courtney Reasoner). Decisions have shifted from the hands of parents and match makers to the grips of love, “a new world order,” Tevye notes.

While Act I focuses on the breaking of tradition, Act II intensifies with the breaking of faith, as one of Tevye’s younger daughters, Chava (Anne Ateca) secretly weds to a non-Jew, Fyedka (Kyle Neal). Tevye turns his back on his daughter, claiming her as dead. This is a break that seems irreparable. To further complicate matters, the town receives news that the Russians are forcing the town to evacuate. Anatevka is scattered as long- time friends and family go their separate ways. The townspeople sing a solemn ode to their fair town, “Anatevka.” The story concludes as Tevye and the Fiddler (Michelle Forrester) share one final moment on stage before leaving the familiarity of tradition forever.

The production included nearly 20 musical numbers and the entire range of emotion, from humor to despair to romance. Directed by junior Courtney Reasoner the cast consisted of 26 cast members and two behind-the-scenes set members, in addition to a pianist, and a light technician.

“Directing it was humungous and really intimidating because everyone at CIU knows Fiddler and they have expectations in their mind,” Reasoner said.

Reasoner also said she had never seen so many people on the stage of Hoke Auditorium.

“That aspect was scary but incredibly fun to overcome.”

And not only was Reasoner the director, she was a part of the cast.

“Being in it was a challenge, but it was really exciting. I wasn’t just sitting in the audience telling them what to do, I was one of them. We were all like part of a family.”

The cast embraced their characters and beautifully reflected the emotion and intensity of the plot.

“We all knew the story and we all loved the show, but getting into it, everyone really grew into their characters and had a deep appreciation for everything,” senior Jeremy Reasoner (brother of Courtney Reasoner) said. “It was a life-changing experience.”

More than 700 people attended the musical, and many were impressed.  

“It was probably the best musical that the Players have put on during my time at CIU,” junior Nik Ellison said. “It was a lot of fun, there was a lot of good emotion, and I loved it. I saw all three shows and I loved every night.” 

Check out the "Fiddler" photos by CIU student photographer Christine Benz on the CIU Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciuimpact/sets/72157648941781487/