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Massena High School presents ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Friday, Saturday

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MASSENA - The stage in the Massena High School auditorium will be transformed into the tiny village of Anatevka on Friday and Saturday when the school presents “Fiddler on the Roof,” the tale of a poor dairy man and his five daughters, one of whom wants to break tradition by marrying the love of her life.

Senior James George plays one of the lead roles of Tevye, the father who is trying to protect his daughters, including Tzeitel, who has found her love in Motel.

“Tevye is a hard worker, an old father. He’s been around a while,” Mr. George said.

As a member of the older generation, Mr. George said Tevye is bound in old traditions, including his relationship with his children.

“He wants to make sure they’re safe and follow tradition, but that’s where the lines blur,” he said.

Mr. George, a veteran performing in his fifth musical, said he got interested in performing after his cousin told him he should try out as a sixth grader. And he’s been a part of the cast since then.

“I enjoy acting,” he said.

He said it’s the biggest role of his high school career. It involves performing in 18 scenes and singing 10 songs.

“It’s definitely the most demanding. I’m in every scene except three,” he said.

The cast members received their scripts before Christmas break and that’s when Mr. George said he began absorbing his character.

“It was just a lot of looking over stuff. It was easy to go down to the basement and read over lines,” he said.

It wasn’t until the cast got together to watch a showing of “Fiddler on the Roof” that he realized the importance of his role.

“It hit me,” he said. “When I first tried out, I didn’t really look at the show before I got the part.”

Since then, he has watched other productions of “Fiddler on the Roof” to see how others have handled the role.

Still, Mr. George said, “I’ve been having a lot of fun with this one. I picked parts I like about each. I just enjoy putting my little flavor on it.”

As the curtain gets set to rise on Friday, the senior said he’s ready.

“I’m feeling good in spite of all those lines and being here all hours of the night,” he said.

Tevye is married to Golde, who is played by senior Abigail Truax. She’s in her fourth musical at Massena High School and has also performed in productions staged by the Community Performance Series in Potsdam.

“I am the mother of the family. I have five daughters and my husband. I’m a very busy character being a nagging mother,” she said.

The toughest part for Ms. Truax, who played a principal character in last year’s production of “Back to the 80s,” is “trying to get into character as a 40-year-old mom.”

“It’s a lot of watching YouTube to figure out how others do the character and develop your own character,” she said.

But, she said, “I like it. It’s fun.”

“Fiddler on the Roof” takes students where they haven’t been in a few years, she said.

“It’s different. We’ve had very flashy rock shows in the past. They’re all very good in their own different ways. This is a traditional story-telling musical. The cast is suited for it,” Ms. Truax said.

One of the difficult parts about this performance, she said, is the dancing.

“There’s a lot of traditional folk dancing. It’s pretty difficult. Nobody is really trained in folk dancing. It’s a simple movement, but it’s hard to do the folk elements,” she said.

Getting ready for Friday and Saturday night’s performances has meant a lot of time rehearsing on the stage.

“Last night we were here until 11:30,” Ms. Truax said.

But, like Mr. George, she said they’re ready for when the curtain rises.

“I’m really excited. We’ve been working really hard,” she said.

Although she’s a senior, this may not be her last musical.

“I want to go to college for theater performance. It’s always been something that’s been in my life. It’s something I really enjoy. I couldn’t picture myself working at a desk,” Ms. Truax said.

Junior Brody LeCuyer takes on the role of Motel, who wants to marry Tzeitel, one of the five daughters. This is his fourth high school musical, starting with “Guys and Dolls,” and he has also been involved with the Command Performance Series.

Motel, he said, is 19 years old and the tailor of the village.

“He has been friends with Tzeitel since they were small children. Over the years they’ve become close friends. They fell in love about a year before the start of the show. They told each other they would get married,” Mr. LeCuyer said.

But that would be breaking tradition, he said. A matchmaker in the village had always picked the matches for the girls.

“The big scene is when I tell Tevye we’re getting married. I’ve saved money and am going to make something out of myself. We’re the first ones to break tradition,” he said.

He played one of the lead characters in last year’s production, but Mr. LeCuyer said this role is different.

“I enjoy this role. I’m kind of the opposite of myself. Motel is a timid character,” he said.

He said he’s in the vast majority of the first act, but only a couple of scenes in the second act.

“I have one song of my own,” he said. “I was happy with the part.”

The dancing has also taken some adjustment.

“The dancing is nowhere close to what it has been in past years. The dances that are big are big,” Mr. LeCuyer said.

Earlier this week, he said he was “anticipating the show.”

“As we get closer it’s more and more nerve-wracking. But it’s just something you get into. Through rehearsals, you get to know your character. When you’re up on the stage you don’t see anything. You don’t see the audience in the darkness,” he said.

But they know the audience is there when the applause starts, and that’s one of the best feelings for the cast, who have put in months of late nights to get ready, Mr. LeCuyer said.

“You know it’s all come together and it’s worth it,” he said.

Senior Megan Wells play Tzeitel, the love of Motel’s life. She’s been performing on the high school stage since she was a freshman.

“I’ve always been a performed. I’ve been dancing since I was 3. I’m on the Tap to Toe Studio of Dance Competition Team. When I first started dancing I could never get enough of being on stage,” Ms. Wells said.

Tzeitel is 19, the oldest of the five daughters.

“She should be married by now. Her character is very worried she’s going to get married off to someone she doesn’t love. She’s a passionate character who loves Motel,” she said.

By marrying Motel, they break tradition for the first time, Ms. Wells said.

“Motel and I are pretty much on stage together the whole time. The first act we’re on the stage a lot, when the conflicts and actions and take place. In the second act it’s more settled,” she said.

This is the first year she has had a principal character role.

“I was ecstatic. I’ve had a lot of dancing roles in the past. It was really exciting when I found out I had a principal role,” Ms. Wells said.

What makes it easy, she said, is the “very tight-knit cast and crews.”

“We have a lot of people involved. We couldn’t do the show without everybody here,” she said.

Dancing is a role that she wants to keep doing after graduation.

“I definitely want to keep dancing and audition for productions in the future. I just can’t give up. I want to minor in performing arts or try out for musicals,” Ms. Wells said.

This year’s cast includes James George as Tevye, Abbie Truax as Golde, Megan Wells as Tzeitel, Tiffany Alderson as Hodel, Hanna Siddon as Chava, Olivia Nemier as Shprintze, Ashna Gupta as Bielke, Laura Cook as Yente, Nate Marshall as Fiddler, Nicole Canales as Grandma Tzeitel/Villager, Silken Kershner as Fruma-Sarah/Villager, Terry Chapman as Lazar Wolf and Brody LeCuyer as Motel/Russian Soldier.

Other cast members are Joey Pease as Perchik/Russian Soldier, Reed Chapman as Fyedka, Robert Jordan as Constable, Andrew Loffler as Mordcha, Micah Larrow as Rabbi, River Phillips as Mendel, Jarret Harvey as Avram, Nikki Zeitzmann as Shandiel/Villager, Koeby Judware as Russian Soldier/Villager, Matt Drake as Russian Soldier/Villager, Jackie Tulip as Villager/Chava Ballet Dancer and Abby Treers as villager/Chava Ballet Dancer.

Rounding out the cast are Rylee Locey and Carly Amo as Villagers, Luc Eddy and Kellon Lincoln as Village Boys and Alivia Morris as Chava Ballet Dancer.

Tickets for the production are $11 and can be purchased online at www.mchsmusical.com or at the high school box office, which is open from 3:30 to 5 p.m. through Friday. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. both nights.

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