FAITH AND THE FIDDLE

Homeschoolers to perform ‘Fiddler on the Roof’
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Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Almost 60 children are part of the Wolf River Homeschoolers’ production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” The children have been rehearsing the show since November.

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Golde, played by Marie Kluge, left, finds the claims of Yente, played by Tiffany Bestul, that she’ll be able to find husbands for all of her daughters a little hard to swallow in a scene from “Fiddler on the Roof.” The Wolf River Homeschoolers are performing the musical next week.

A story of holding on to one’s faith in the face of oppression and a changing world will be presented to local audiences next week.

The Wolf River Homeschoolers will present “Fiddler on the Roof” as its annual musical from May 12-14. Almost 60 children will sing, dance and become the characters of a small Jewish village in the early 20th century.

The beloved musical, turned into a 1971 film and adapted from the story “Tevye and his Daughters” by Sholem Aleichem, focuses on a Jewish milkman and his five daughters. Tevye must contend with his three eldest daughters wanting to marry for love, even though each marriage could draw them further away from their faith, and with an edict of the Russian tsar demanding the Jews be removed from their village.

Director Sue Kluge said she had been eager to do “Fiddler on the Roof” and was excited when the home-school group voted to do the show.

“It’s just a show that I’ve always loved,” Kluge said. “We sat down, and we looked at a lot of the scripts and picked our favorites. ‘Fiddler’ is what we eventually went with.”

Kluge believes the home-school parents were familiar with the show because of its national and international popularity. The home-school group has presented an annual musical to the public for more than a decade, and Kluge believes “Fiddler” is the most dramatic piece the group has performed to date.

“We’ve definitely done more lighthearted shows,” Kluge said. “They’re not always comedies, but they were definitely lighter.”

Because “Fiddler on the Roof” deals with the mature theme of marriage, Kluge had to plan carefully as she cast the show. She noted that a couple of the “papas” were younger than their sons, and there are a couple of elementary-age children playing grandfathers.

The home-schoolers have rehearsed once or twice a week since November, having a few extra weeks to rehearse due to scheduling conflicts with Clintonville High School. In previous years, the show was performed in April.

The group includes more than the Shawano and Clintonville families who home-school their children. Kluge noted that some families drive 45 minutes one-way to attend rehearsals.

There are some complex dance numbers in the show, including a couple of wedding dances, prompting some children to come in early for rehearsals.

“Those took a lot of work,” Kluge said. “The music, I think, has been a little more challenging than usual because there aren’t the usual melody rhymes for the children to follow, so they’ve had to work harder than usual to master those pieces.”

In the end, that’s a good thing, in Kluge’s view, because it gives the children a chance to stretch both as performers and as scholars.

Kluge said she likes how the show relates to faith and the traditions of one’s faith, especially when dealing with children who might want to marry someone who might not fit the mandates of that faith. One of the daughters marries outside the Jewish faith, causing Tevye, the father, great heartbreak.

“I don’t know much the little ones will connect with the issues, but I’m sure many of the older ones do,” Kluge said.

While the show is suitable for all ages, it is expected to last more than 2 1/2 hours, not including intermission, so parents should keep that in mind if they bring their children to the show.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: “Fiddler on the Roof”

WHEN: 7 p.m. May 12-13, 2 p.m. May 14

WHERE: Auditorium, Clintonville High School, 64 W. Green Tree Road, Clintonville

ADMISSION: Free, but the Wolf River Homeschoolers encourage patrons to give what they can to defray the costs of the show.