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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment April 29, 2016


7/10/2014 10:08:00 AM
Leavenworth Summer Theater presents the classic, 'Fiddler on the Roof'

Photos submitted by Susan Hufman
Leavenworth resident Ernest Palmer, plays the title role of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Photos submitted by Susan Hufman
Leavenworth resident Ernest Palmer, plays the title role of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Ian Dunn
Editor

The show has the music, song and dancing you are used in Leavenworth Summer Theater, but set in Czarist Russia in the early 1900s, "Fiddler on the Roof" also depicts the stark anti-semitism of the period.

For Director Phil Lacey, the show marks an exciting challenge.

"It's definitely as not as bubbly as some of the other musicals we have done. There are definitely some historical elements to it that are much darker," Lacey said. "But, at the same time, it faces all that with the power of hope, which goes along with what LST is trying to express to the community."

Lacey said the show is the story of one man finding out what makes life possible, in the face of adversity. It starts out in a Jewish community, deeply grounded in tradition.

"But what do you do when tradition is beset by life changing ideas and the government," Lacey said. "In the end, where do you find your hope? Starting this journey where Tevye and his family find their hope and ability to move forward. That lays out how the play has to progress."

Playing the lead role of Teyve is LST veteran Ernest Palmer. Lacey says there are aspects of Tevye's character he can tap into. At several rehearsals, Lacey said he has been left in tears by Palmer's performance.

It's something you would not expect from someone who performs so well in comedic roles. Palmer said he finds the role to be very realistic.

"Aside from the Jewish persecution, which is devastating and hard to fathom, the entire show is about Tevya and his wife and kids," Palmer said. "He reminds me so much of my own father and some of the conversations Tevya has with his wife and children are conversations I've had with my father, except on the other end."

Playing Tevye has not been tough, Palmer said, because he is surrounded by a great group of actors. Kelly Allen is playing Tevye's wife, Golde. Playing the daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava are Sarah Hadley, Liz Oyama and Kaylene Jackson.

Most of the costumes are being made in house, Lacey said, except for a few traditional Jewish costumes. The set is very diverse because the scenes are set in several locations. Most people are familiar with the 1971 movie, but the show actually began as a stage play in 1964.

"The set is something I am very excited about. Going back to the original stories that 'Fiddler on the Roof' was based on, written 1900 to 1905. Those have been linked to the paintings of Marc Chagall, a Jewish impressionist painter," Lacey said. "He really captured that history with abstract but very evocative imagery. I basically asked the set designer to design as he saw fit with the Chagall painting. I am beyond thrilled how the set is turning out."

Lacey leans heavily on Technical Director David Harvill for the set design. While the technical elements are not Lacey's forte, he does talk to Harvill about his vision, letting him bring that to reality.

The cast of 28 includes a great deal of young actors, some as young as seven. Several members of the family hail from the Seattle area, while more than half are people living in the Leavenworth area. Thus far, rehearsals have gone very well.

"It's breathtaking really. Fiddler really relates to so many different people, in the audience as well as the cast," Lacey said. "In almost every rehearsal, someone is having a major connection or breakthrough, saying this actually happened in my life. It's really cool."

Both Lacey and Palmer are pulling double-duty this summer. Lacey is also directing "The Sound of Music" while Palmer is playing Captain Von Trapp in the same show. For Lacey, its a labor of love.

"Sound of Music and Fiddler are different enough. They are very distinctly different projects, but they have some similar scenes," Lacey said. "Since I am working with Ernest in both shows and some of the cast in both shows, it ends up letting me create a richer overall summer season. Really work with the actors, which isn't an opportunity I would have with one show."

For Palmer, who has lived in Leavenworth since 2007, the only tough part in playing both roles is the beard.

"I can't have a beard for Captain Von Trapp. I have to stick one on to play Tevye," Palmer said, with a chuckle. "There's a lot of similarities. Tevye is living in a time where there is a lot of anti-semitism. Captain Von Trapp is not Jewish but he is against what the Nazis are doing in 1938, which has a lot of anti-semitism as well. There are many similarities between the two shows. They are both fathers, trying to protect their families."

"Fiddler on the Roof" opens Wednesday, July 16, at the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery Stage.

Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or editor@leavenworthecho.com.





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