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Tradition key in ‘Fiddler’

The Laguna Beach High School’s Park Avenue Players have finally brought their most highly requested production, “Fiddler on the Roof,” to the Artists’ Theatre stage.

The 1964 Broadway musical, which takes place in pre-World War II Russia and tells the journey of a Jewish milkman named Tevye and his five unwed daughters, premiered Thursday and will run through March 29.

Mark Dressler, director of performing arts at the high school, said he is ecstatic about the level of talent in the upcoming show.

“We have a fantastic and strong cast, which is what you need to do this kind of musical justice,” he said. “The audience has high expectations when it comes to a popular story like this one, and I think we’re going to blow them away.

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“I’m also excited about putting on a show with such a large cast [of 50] because it affords these young men and women an excellent opportunity to have the spotlight, and it also stretches them in a different direction from anything they’ve done [with the high school] in the past.”

The story that introduced songs like “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “If I Were a Rich Man,” focuses on Tevye’s three eldest daughters: Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava, whose marriages are arranged by the town matchmaker, Yente, and are highly opposed by their father for reasons of financial security and tradition.

With tradition as a central theme, and something to which all of the characters look to guide their lives, Dressler said his version of the production remains true to the original classic.

“The only thing we’ve done is create a more briskly paced version, and cut the three-hour production down to two hours and 14 minutes, making it more enjoyable to watch,” he said.

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Sophia Tupy, who will play Hodel, said she especially likes this show because it’s meaningful and important to so many people.

“Not many musicals portray such a moving, true story of a time period that impacted so many people,” she said. “It’s a really special story that needs to be told.”

Tupy said she is also eager to play the role of the most intellectual daughter.

“I respect her because she’s open-minded, quick-witted and speaks her mind — not something many women did during that time.”

Tevye will be played by Nicolai Doreng-Stearns, who said he is fond of the story line due to its honest portrayal of the time period in which it takes place, but has also found this to be one of his most challenging roles.

“Tevye is a struggling man trying to grasp on to traditions of the past as the world is changing around him,” he said. “As a liberal person myself, it was hard to find something in my own life to help me connect to his character.

“The story really portrays life the way it was at that time. It’s a comedy, drama and tragedy all in one — what more could you ask for in a show?”

IF YOU GO

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WHAT: “Fiddler on the Roof”

WHERE: Laguna Beach High School Artists’ Theatre, 625 Park Ave.

WHEN: 7 tonight, Saturday, Sunday and Thursday; March 27 through 29. Also 2 p.m. Saturday matinees.

COST: Tickets are $12 for students and seniors, $15 for adults, and $20 for premium seating.

CALL: To reserve tickets, call (949) 497-7769.



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