Fiddler on the Roof at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Fiddler on the Roof

The Sanctuary Stage at Holy Trinity Anglican Church (10037 84 avenue) August 14 – 16, 20 – 23


Photo credit: Kristin Zabos

Photo credit: Kristin Zabos

An interview with Morgan Kunitz.

Describe your show in five words. 

Epic, tradition, family, musical, Jewish

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

Holy Trinity Anglican Church and theTrinity Players present Fiddler on the Roof. A cast and crew of over 50 local people come together to bring you this classic spectacular show.

Set in the little village of Anatevka, the music and dance filled story centers on Tevye, a poor dairyman, and his five daughters. With the help of a colorful and tight-knit Jewish community, Tevye tries to protect his daughters and instill them with traditional values in the face of changing social mores and the growing anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia. Rich in historical and ethnic detail, Fiddler On The Roof’s universal theme of tradition cuts across barriers of race, class, nationality and religion, leaving audiences crying tears of laughter, joy and sadness.

Why did you want to take on Fiddler on the Roof, which features over 50 performers?

There are so many reasons we decided to mount this particular musical.  First, it echoes my ancestor’s suffering in the Ukraine and their flight from the pogroms that led them to Canada allowing me the fortune to be born in this great country.  Second, the message of tradition colliding with family and the new generation’s struggle to create their own traditions is something that is relevant today as we see so much hate caused by what people deem to be the breaking of tradition. My own great grandmother broke with tradition in marrying outside her Jewish faith keeping her union secret for two years before word got out.  Her family disowned her (a difficult thing to do in a tiny prairie town) until her baby daughter fell sick and her mother said enough was enough bringing her back into the family.   Last, we simply had the perfect Tevye; when I met Andrew Hladyshevsky all I could think of was Fiddler on the Roof, when we found out we could obtain the rights and he was able to be our Tevye we knew it was the perfect match.

What are the challenges in mounting such a well-known production as Fiddler on the Roof?

First, the audience singing along to the numbers. Second, sometimes it feels a lot like crowd control putting that amount of people on stage…and making sure they all have a good time (this is community theatre after all). Third, people such a love of the show and how it ‘should’ go that you have to be true to this ideal while still letting the actors take chances with their roles.

Your production of Fiddler on the Roof features local dance troupe Viter. What does partnering with this dance company add to your production for audiences?

Nobody can bottle dance like a Ukrainian dancer (in Edmonton). Whether it’s doing the iconic bottle dance as Anatevkans or doing flips as Russians, Viter own the stage every time they’re on it. And they’re handsome!

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

Trinity Players, established over 100 years ago, is the in-house theatre company at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, which as a BYOV (and Alberta’s only licensed church) is hosting NINE productions this year. This show is a remount from a sold out run in March 2015.

The 34th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 13 – 23. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.

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