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Hamilton High School Choir Department presents the well-loved musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” March 14–17.

Choir Director Peggy Bucheit said her students have “created a beautiful, heartfelt version of the same old ‘Fiddler’ we all grew up watching.”

“Sixty-five cast members have developed relatable, authentic characters with very real and raw emotions,” Bucheit said. “As part of the learning process, cast members and a few parents have come in every Saturday for two months to build a stunning and believable set.”

On the surface, the musical portrays the life a poor milkman and his family in a Jewish community. But the story is deeper and tells of the customs and traditions in the little Russian town of Anatevka, in 1905. It is about hardships, hard choices and life that is “as precarious as a fiddler on the roof.”

Tevye, played by junior Ryan Craig, looks at his own 25-year marriage, his quest to find good husbands for his five daughters and his walk with God.

Craig said he enjoys playing Tevye.

“He really wants to be smart but he is really not at all,” Craig said. “He always mentions stuff from the Holy Book but he doesn’t know what is actually in it. He gets called on it sometimes. He really wants to be rich and smart but never ends up being either of these.”

Being quick to anger is another part of Tevye’s character.

“He wants to follow his traditions to a ‘T’ but at the same time wants to love and support his family,” Craig said. “It is sometimes a hard choice between the two options.”

Craig said he enjoys the music of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“These are songs I have heard,” he said. “I’ve seen the movie a few times. It is great to be the person performing that. The setting is cool.”

Craig said his preparation for this production includes summer camps at Hamilton Playhouse.

“In middle school I was in two of those shows and I was the Genie in Aladdin, a pretty big character,” he said. “I like doing musicals and sing baritone. This part is a little high for me and challenging but good.”

He encourages people to attend the HHS production.

“It is going to be a really exciting show,” he said. “It is a really heartfelt show where you feel the emotions of the scenes. There are lots of tough choices and show a man having to choose between his family and his tradition and how it tears him apart.”

Craig said it is a great cast full of friends who have become closer though the production.

Senior Madisyn Drake, in her first major role on a large stage, portrays Golde.

“She is Tevye’s wife and really sassy,” Drake said. “She knows what she wants, wears the pants in the relationship and is the man of the household.”

Drake is a soprano and said she loves to sing.

“The most challenging song is ‘Do You Love Me?’ — it is basically my own song because I don’t have Ryan backing me up,” she said. “We are doing a really good job on this production and I think it will be a beautiful performance too. It isn’t modern but the staging and musical numbers are really cool.”

Junior Gus Courchesne plays Motel the nervous tailor who falls in love with Tevye’s daughter Tzeitel (Sarah Hancock).

“We haven’t told Tevye about us and are really nervous that he’ll find out but eventually we tell him that we pledged to marry,” Courchesne said. “In the end he realizes we really do love each other and want to be married. He gives us his permission.”

Courchesne sings “Miracle of Miracles” which he said is comfortably in his vocal range.

“I really like the entire process,” he said. “It has been fun to sing and act. It is a great experience.”

Courchesne is in a HHS theatre class, was in the HHS production of “Grease” and has appeared in Hamilton Playhouse productions.

“This is the first big production I’ve been in for a while,” he said. “People will love this story about love, loss, prejudices and how it affects people. It has a great message behind it and the singing and acting is great. I love the songs. You get the full range of emotions in this play from happy to sad and all the emotions you can think of.”

Sophomore Jonah O’Connor portrays the Rabbi.

“My character is very old and fun to play,” O’Connor said. “He doesn’t have many lines but is totally character-based.”

O’Connor is in the HHS Theatre II class, treasurer of the drama club (The Pretenders) and has performed since sixth grade.

He said the audience will enjoy the production of “Fiddle on the Roof.”

“Everyone is into their parts and having fun doing it,” he said. “Everyone is interested in what we are doing. I wasn’t the biggest fan before we started but I’ve warmed up to it.”

Familiar songs include “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Tradition,” “Matchmaker,” and “If I Were A Rich Man.”

The song “Sabbath Prayer” is a wonderful moment in the production thanks to the staging, reverence, beautiful voices and tender portrayal of families celebrating their tradition.

The 65-member cast is supported by over four–dozen adults including Peggy Bucheit — executive director; Tasha Fain — acting and vocal coach; Natalie Naidle — choreographer; John Walker — lights; and Rob Parr and Rich Bucheit — sound. The talented pit orchestra includes Gay Garard Brewer and Norb Lorenzen on keyboards; Tasha Fain, Ed Mellander and Lauran Roberts on violin; Kathy Mellander — viola; Ellen Holleman — flute; Anna Hughes — clarinet; and Jack Barnings and Garic Hawkes on percussion.

Rick Bucheit and Kevin Clark led the set design and construction crews that created fascinating pieces that fold and glide to create a house, a village, a pub and a community on one stage. Over two–dozen volunteers helped with construction and costume design.

Enjoy "Fiddler on the Roof" at 7:30 p.m. on March 14, 15 and 16, and at 2 p.m. on March 17 at the Hamilton High School Performing Arts Center, 327 Fairgrounds Rd. Tickets are available at the Hamilton High School Office. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for grades 12 and under.

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