Willow River Players bring “Fiddler” musical to stageThe Willow River Players are preparing to entertain New Richmond and the surrounding area with their rendition of the popular musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” which opens in early September.
By: Emily Miels, New Richmond News
The Willow River Players are preparing to entertain New Richmond and the surrounding area with their rendition of the popular musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” which opens in early September.
The cast and crew of more than 50 people will portray what life was like for Tevye as he tries to marry off his daughters while attempting to maintain Jewish religious traditions in czarist Russia, circa 1905.
“This is a show about choosing between traditions and new ideas,” director David Wesley Frank said. “In this show Tevye, a poor farmer is marrying off his eldest three daughters. Each of the daughters presents a new challenge to the way that he sees the world and each and every time he has to make decisions about whether he will hold to traditions or embrace new ones.”
President of the Willow River Players, Chad Leonard, said “Fiddler on the Roof” was a perfect show choice because the large cast size and various ages allowed opportunities for many members of the community to get involved.
“It’s something that the organization has really been looking at doing for a while,” Leonard said. “The other aspect that was good for us was that it involved families, or could involve families, and we have a number of those in the show.”
George Gfall, who plays the lead role of Tevye, said he has been auditioning for a lead part for many years and finally got his opportunity with this show.
“I waited 50 years for somebody to put on a play where the lead is an old, lumpy guy,” Gfall said with a laugh.
Leonard also mentioned that many people got involved with the organization for the first time as part of this show.
Dawn Budrow, who plays Tevye’s wife Golde, is one of the newcomers. Budrow said her biggest challenge has been learning the ins and outs of theater.
“I have not done this before so learning the terminology and just the process is a challenge,” Budrow said. “And the choreography has thrown me for a loop.”
The show features many musical numbers and dance routines such as “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Tradition” and “If I Were A Rich Man.”
“There is a lot of music in this show,” Frank said. “It is a huge responsibility to make sure that each song gets its proper due and that each song is served well.”
Music director Debi Orff said that teaching the songs to so many people has been challenging, but the cast has been a pleasure to work with.
“It’s a great group,” Orff said. “They listen very carefully to what I’m doing and what I’m telling them and they rise to the occasion.”
Willow River Players purchased new technology to provide the musical accompaniment to the vocals, according to Leonard.
“We’re using a new technology for the orchestra which will allow us to basically have a 35 piece Broadway recorded orchestra with this show,” Leonard said. “I think it will be a great experience to be able to hear that orchestra with the voices.”
Audiences will have the chance to see and hear the show Sept. 7-9 and Sept. 14-16 at the New Richmond High School auditorium.
Leonard said he is thankful that they had such a great theater to work in for this performance.
“They’ve really allowed us full reign over the theater and it’s great to have this unbelievable space for us to perform in,” Leonard
Tickets will be available at the door prior to the performance and online at www.willowriverplayers.org.