URI theatre students sing to Fiddler’s tune

KINGSTON, R.I. — December 1, 1999 — The University of Rhode Island’s Theatre Department has once more found something to sing about with their latest production of Fiddler on the Roof. The well-known musical, which features a cast of URI students and members of the community, will have the audience humming in their seats to such favorites as “If I Were a Rich Man,” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” as they bring this tale of love and family to life. Fiddler on the Roof will be performed on Dec. 2-4, and Dec. 8-10 at 8 p.m. in the Robert E. Will Theatre in the URI Fine Arts Center on the Kingston Campus. The musical will also be performed on Dec. 5 at 5 p.m. and on Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. General admission for the performance is $12 and $10 for students, senior citizens, and children under 12. The musical is based on the book by Joseph Stein, and tells the tale of a dairyman, Tevye, his unyielding wife, and his five daughters. Tevye and his family are Jewish and live in a village inside Catholic Russia, which is ruled by the Tsar. Tevye and his neighbors try to find a balance between their faith and the anti-Semitism that has been sweeping Russia, as sanctioned by the Tsar. Tevye’s own beliefs, traditions, and his post as head of the family are challenged as he faces many conflicts, such as his daughters choosing their own husbands. Bryna Wortman of Narragansett, director of the play, said that although the play is set in 1905, it hits close to home today. “The society in the play may seem different from modern American society, but it is very similar in the struggles which Tevye and his family face. Although the play is always about love and family, it also deals with the rebellion of children, which many families encounter today. Because the family is Jewish, they also face additional challenges with anti-Semitism,” she explained. “I think the most powerful message of the play is that although Tevye, his family, and his neighbors must leave their homeland, they carry their home in their hearts,” said Wortman. Even though its message is serious, Heidi Beckmann, a sophomore theatre major from Wakefield who plays the eldest daughter, Tzeitel, said the cast had a lot of fun with the play. She explained that because it is a musical, there is a certain hokiness to it. “Fiddler on the Roof is a little further off from real life. For example, when my character gets engaged, her fiancée breaks out into song. Yet, it really teaches a lot about family, the Jewish religion, and the challenges they’ve been through. It is a lesson on how to love your family and have strength. It’s a great, great play,” said Beckmann. Students playing other main roles include: Richard Fruchter-Schall, a sophomore theatre major from Hewlett, N.Y., as Tevye; Betsy Walter, a senior elementary education major from Merrick, N.Y., as Golde; Heidi Hewitt, a senior theatre major from Slingerlands, N.Y., as Hodel; Joel Van Iderstine, a senior theater major from Middleborough, Mass., as Motel; Joanna L. Beecher, a junior theatre major from Dover, N.H., as Chava; Andrew Lidestri, a senior theatre major from Narragansett, as Perchik; Joshua Willis, a senior theatre major from Cranston, as Fyedka; Jhomphy Ventura, a senior theatre major from Providence, as Lazar Wolfe; Holly Hoyt, a senior theatre major from Broadalbin, N.Y., as Fruma Sara; Tina Marie Romano, a junior theatre major from Garden City South, N.Y., as Grandma Tzeitel; Keith Hanson, a sophomore art major from Spring Lake, N.J., as Mordcha; Lee Johnson, a junior theatre major from Charlestown, as the constable; and Daniel Houle, a senior theatre major from Woonsocket, as Sasha. For reservations and information, call 874-5843. x-x-x For More Information: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-2116