David Roth always liked “Fiddler on the Roof.” He just didn’t love it.
The longtime Staples Players director chose the show as his acclaimed troupe’s fall mainstage production.
Now he’s fallen in love with it. And — thanks to all that’s happening on the world stage — his high school actors are passionate about it too.
“I knew ‘Fiddler’ was important because it exposes teenagers to what was happening at that point in history,” Roth says of the musical that opens this Friday.
“But I never expected it to resonate so much with the contemporary world.”
In the months since the show was chosen, the Syrian refugee crisis has exploded. The parallels with “Fiddler’s” story line — families and communities torn apart, then scattered all across the globe — help students connect yesterday and today.
They’re doing more than just talk about it. At the show this weekend and next, Players will raise funds to help female Syrian refugees. Women were chosen in part, Roth says, because “Fiddler” is a story of matchmaking.
“In the beginning, it was hard for kids to relate to that concept,” Roth notes.
When they studied the role of Chava — the eldest of the 3 daughters, who marries a Christian — he and his actors talked about religious tradition. None of the Staples students could really relate to the distress over intermarriage, epitomized by Tevye’s harsh comment, “You’re dead to me.”
But they did connect that to the current issue of same-sex marriage. Roth’s actors know that even in 2015, people are ostracized for marrying a same-sex partner. “Kids do understand what it means to go against norms and traditions,” the director says.
There’s another reason Roth has grown to love “Fiddler.”
“I’ve realized it’s an almost perfect, musical,” he says. “There’s great storytelling, songs and dance, and a fantastic balance of humor and pathos. That’s why it’s one of the most popular shows of all time.” The 5th Broadway revival opens soon.
But you don’t have to travel that far to see “Fiddler on the Roof.” The Staples curtain rises on Friday.
(“Fiddler on the Roof” runs Friday and Saturday, November 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are set for Sunday, November 15 and Saturday, November 21 at 3 p.m. Ticket sales are strong — so to order online now, click here.)