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Beloved Joseph Stein classic, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ comes to Old Town Temecula Theater

 

Last updated 1/25/2018 at Noon

Temecula’s Youth Musical Theater Group will be performing Joseph Stein’s classic play “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Old Town Temecula Theater from Thursday, Jan. 25, through Sunday, Jan. 28. Jennifer Stuart photo

The classic Joseph Stein play, “Fiddler on the Roof,” is now being performed live by members of Temecula’s Youth Musical Theater, and director Jennifer Stuart is excited to see her students in action after more than four months of practice.

Stuart said her large group of students, who range in age from 7-17, have been practicing for two hours every Tuesday and Thursday on such things as acting, vocal work and dancing for the show which opened Jan. 25.

They’ve also taken time to learn about the significance of the play, and the roles they’re playing.

link “Fiddler on the Roof” follows a poor milkman, Tevye, and his five daughters, who live in a Jewish community in the Russian town of Anatevka amid rising anti-Semitism. In spite of the way his world is changing, Tevye does much to protect his daughters and instill them with traditional values.

Stuart said she comes from a Jewish background, so the Broadway classic bears a special significance for her. However, that’s far from the only reason she gravitated toward it.

link “I also think that giving kids the opportunity to do material with meat is really important for their growth and development as actors and as people,” she said. “They can’t always do something light. I need them to be challenged and to learn and to grow.”

One of the ways she’s sought to accomplish that is through small group instruction with some of the play’s leads. During those sessions she’s gone over such things as the relationships between certain characters and the importance of certain scenes.

On segment of the production revolves around a Sabbath dinner. To get the children to understand why that’s important, one of the play’s volunteers set up an actual Sabbath dinner where the play’s leads could try traditional foods and learn more about the dinner in general.

“We had them do a question and answer period where they got to learn about the history and what it really meant, and what those traditions and that culture, and that practice is all about,” Stuart said.

Stuart said one of the most gratifying elements of the play has been seeing everything come together. She felt that way during a recent practice where the students rehearsed the play in its entirety.

link “These kids worked four hours yesterday after a whole day of school and at the very end I was like, ‘that’s it. You’ve made it. Your show’s complete. It’s the first time and that’s it we’re done,’” Stuart said. “And they were just cheering and hugging and that part to me was -- it was just awesome to see that as a teacher.”

linkStuart said her students have learned through the process, including the importance of working in a group, being serious duringa scene and how to “dig deep” to get dramatic moments across to the audience.

“I think they’ve learned how to take a piece from written on a page to an actual final product onstage and that whole process is just a huge learning experience,” she said.

Stuart said the group of youngsters will begin preparing for the stage musical “Bye Bye Birdie” in February, with performances slated for late June and early July.

For more information on “Fiddler on the Roof” or to get tickets, visit the city’s website at https://tickets.temeculatheater.org/eventperformances.asp?evt=1111.

 

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