The Cooperative Drama Program to present Fiddler on the Roof
Posted by Ken Grabowski, Manistee News Advocate, on April 27th, 2015
ONEKAMA — Input equals output.
It is a simple statement that more than sums up the quality of The Cooperative Drama program consisting of Onekama, Bear Lake and Kalevan Norman Dickson school students. The annual production has been amazing area residents for many years with quality theatrical productions.
This year The Cooperative Drama Program will be presenting the classic musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” at 7 p.m. from April 30 to May 2 and a 2 p.m. matinee on May 3. Tickets are currently on sale at each of the high school offices and advanced ticket purchase is recommended. Seating is general admission.
Director Amanda Harthun and musical director Kathy Joseph say the show is going to be another classic performance by some talented area students.
“More than one adult has said,they are blown away at how hard the kids are working and improving,” said Harthun. “It is very evident that the students are exhausted, as tonight during stage notes (our commentary at the end of rehearsal) many were literally laying on the stage as we have been rehearsing six days a week, three to four hours a night, but they keep listening to our team’s constructive notes and make changes the following rehearsal to make their show bigger and better.”
Support from the families of the students has always been a contributing factor to the success of the plays throughout the years. However, this year they have an added dimension.
“This year we have even stronger community support,” said Harthun. “Some alumni have came back and pitched in as needed, and other adults have volunteered their time.We have all of our talented faces returning, but there are some new adult helpers that have stepped forward and have been invaluable. We actually call them our ‘Creative Dream Team’ as working with them is a dream.”
Harthun said music director Kathy Joseph has saw the same occur in the musicians.
“The pit orchestra is the biggest it has ever been, and the audience is in for a treat with the quality of musicians that have came out of the woodwork of our community,” she said. “It truly is a collaborative vision that works due to a mutual respect and passion for sharing the love of the arts with our students and telling a good story to our community. I think it is that buy in that makes the program successful.”
Both directors indicated that the cast is filled with familiar names that have been in many plays.
Leading roles are held by Tucker Laws (Tevye), Anna Brown (Golde), Kirsten Bowers (Tzeitel), Louise Barnard (Hodel), Maci Podbilski (Chava), Alliyiah Torrey (Shprintze), Sara Bromley (Bielke), Madeline Smeltzer (Yente), Gerald Eipperle (Motel), Alex Dutton (Perchik), Andrew Clarke (Lazar Wolf), Josh Ide (Mordcha), Johnathon Wertheimer (Rabbi), Manny Volcy, Jacob Fitch (Avram), Kyle Carter (Nachum), Maria Sidor (Grandma Tzeitel), Kim Carter (Fruma-Sarah), Keith McKenney (constable), Jared Sarinopoulos (Fyedka), Isacc Hamilton (Sasha), Josh Feyers (Yussel), Alyssan Clarke (Shandel) and Dylan Ide (The Fiddler).
Joseph commented that the dedication of the students is amazing.
“The kids have stepped up and into several roles,” she said. “For example, Gerald stepped into the role of Motel, the tailor who marries Tzeitel in Sunrise, Sunset,” she said. “This is a lead role, but he didn’t stop there. Gerald did some choreographing, and is always the student that stays late to help make sure all things are put away and taken care of. His leadership will be missed next year.”
Harthun added that now that they have been doing this for several years there are students who have been in many productions. Although those skills will be missed in the future, the directors know the younger students are learning the ropes from the more experienced ones.
“We are heavy in senior leadership this year. I can’t deny that it will difficult to say good bye to our 15 dedicated seniors,” said Harthun. “However, the ‘youngers, middles, and olders,’ concept we have is effective. As directors, we cast shows to give the younger students experience, build the middle aged students’ confidence and skill set, so that when they become older students they are skilled and comfortable enough to step into those leadership roles.”
The “Fiddler on the Roof” production is going to be slightly different than past shows.
“It has been challenging for our students to cross the cultural lines in this show and understand how their character may be feeling during this time,” she said. “We have said more than once that it is hard, but hard is necessary. We have watched a lot of ‘game tape’ to learn as much as possible about the characters and story.”
Harthun said they are going to great lengths to keep the show authentic.
“We are an extremely detail oriented program,” she said. “It isn’t easy to step back in time, but to step back in time and into a culture that is unfamiliar with your own, where you have to really think about the historical context of the situation and not make a culturally offensive move, it adds to the complexity of the show.”
She said an example of that is they had to learn more about the Jewish faith. That included learning how to bow and say prayers the Jewish way.
“It is the little things like that that add to the show,” she said.