The Acting Out! Theater Company will present “Fiddler on the Roof” for four shows Feb. 15 to 17 at the Rogers Center for the Performing Arts at Merrimack College in North Andover.
Based on Sholem Aleichem’s short stories about a milkman named Tevye and his daughters, “Fiddler” is set in a poor Jewish village in Czarist Russia in the early years of the 20th Century. The themes -- tradition, family, love and marriage, regret and optimism -- are presented by honest, funny characters and memorable songs like “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were A Rich Man,” and “Matchmaker.”
Andover resident Kyle Rys plays Motel the tailor and suitor of Tevye’s oldest daughter. Rys shares a similar family history with that of his character, according to Acting Out. His family immigrated to the United States from Russia and Poland. One family tale includes a great grandfather who “missed the boat” to America. This turned out to be fortunate as the boat was in fact the Titanic.
“The story of Fiddler is a reflection on my own family’s history,” Rys said in a release. “Like Teyve’s family, my own ancestors dealt with the hardships of living in that area of the world at that time. They too struggled with oppression, prejudice and (most likely) exile from their homeland before making their way to America. Performing in this show is my way of reconnecting with my roots and experiencing a taste of what my ancestors went through in that difficult era.”
“It is a piece of historical fiction and many of our cast/crew members have their own stories to tell that mirror those in this rich musical theater piece,” said Director Linda Schoonmaker. “Our cast is comprised of many families, friends, and that alone is a great reason to see the show. There is a cohesiveness on stage that makes you believe that you really are in Anatevka.”
“Fiddler contains themes that are just as prevalent today as they were during the period of the show’s setting. Jews all over the world still deal with the ongoing struggle between tradition and change, and how we attempt to achieve balance of each in our everyday lives,” said Rys.
The original 1964 Broadway production, with a cast including Zero Mostel and Beatrice Arthur, won nine Tony awards, ran for eight years, and was the first Broadway musical to surpass 3,000 performances.
Acting Out!’s production includes participants from all over the Merrimack Valley, and from Stoneham, Swampscott, Lynn, Middleton, Freemont, New Hampshire and Exeter, New Hampshire. For tickets and information, go to actingouttheater.com or call 978-807-1191.
Andover citizens performing in “Fiddler on the Roof” are Armando Belliard, Ben Ashworth, Caitlin Hawes, Courtney Plati, Genevieve Wybenga, Isabel Dawson, Isabelle DelMonaco, Jeff Ashworth, Karen Easton, Karin Ulanovsky, Kate Uluatam, Katherine Burns, Kristin Stark, Kyle M. Rys, Melissa Belliard and Shannon Booth.
Jeff and Ben Ashworth of Andover are a father and son duo in the ensemble of Fiddler. Both are regular participants in Acting Out!, while participating in many activities together, including ice hockey. Before the Sunday rehearsals at Acting Out, Ben, 11, attends Hebrew School at Temple Emanuel of Andover.
“It is my first time in the ensemble. I’m not big into dancing and choreography, so it is a different experience. We do a lot of sports together and act together,” said Jeff Ashworth.
“Being part of the performance is like a sports team,” added Ben.