It’s going to be the largest scale production the Chilliwack Players’ Guild has mounted in ages.
A cast of 61 players will be presenting Fiddler on the Roof for nine performances between April 18 and April 28 on the Chilliwack Cultural Centre main stage.
“We’re ready to go,” said director Clint Hames.
Fiddler tells the story of Tevye, the father of five daughters, who tries to maintain his orthodox Jewish traditions in face of personal and political upheaval in turn-of-the-century Czarist Russia.
“It’s going to be huge, and this is as good a cast as I ever worked with,” said Hames.
The Fiddler on the Roof title stems from a painting depicting Eastern European life, The Fiddler, by Russian surrealist Marc Chagall. It’s a metaphor for cultural survival, and finding a balance and joy in life life despite uncertainty.
This is the second time round for Hames directing the enduringly popular musical for the Guild, but there’ll be some notable differences more than three decades later.
“It will be a completely different production because we are working with a full-sized stage at the Cultural Centre. It’s been lovely here.”
For anyone who hasn’t taken seen a production at the new arts facility, this is the one to pick, he said.
“This production will push the limits of what can be done. Some of the advanced technology that’s been developed in the past 30 years means everything from the lighting, to sound gets an upgrade.”
The much-loved production features well-known musical numbers like Tradition, Matchmaker, Sunrise, Sunset and If I Were A Rich Man. Some of the players actually came out to rehearse for roles because they love the music so much, the director said.
So music is a key part of the production, and the cast has been rehearsing with the 14-piece orchestra for the past few weeks.
They will be using the traditional musical arrangements for Fiddler, with instrumentation like the accordion, Hames said.
“We’ve got first class musicians in the show.”
Keep in mind Fiddler on the Roof is not just any musical, the original production was the first Broadway musical to surpass 3,000 performances, a record that stood for a decade. When the Guild first produced Fiddler in 1981, the show sold out before it opened.
At the time, a younger Hames encouraged his then co-worker, Graham Archer, to get involved backstage in the production of Fiddler they were working on.
“It was my first foray into the world of theatre and I was hooked,” said Archer.
He helped build sets and worked on the stage crew.
Now, Hames is directing the much anticipated revival, and Archer is onstage this time.
He plays the central patriarch, Tevye, trying to maintain his traditional way of life.
“I am honored to be playing Tevye,” said Archer.
“He is such a sympathetic character, and a father trying to keep true to his religious faith and the traditional ways of his people, all the while keeping an eye on his strong-willed daughters.
“It’s such a beautiful story. It’s funny, touching, and inspiring.”
Fiddler on the Roof at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, April 18–21, April 25–28, with a Sunday matinee on April 22, Adults $25 and Seniors/Students $22.50, go to www.playersguild.ca or 604-391-SHOW (7469) for tickets.