Stellar 'Fiddler on the Roof' at Porthouse Theatre hits all the right notes

By April Helms special products editor Published:

It seems appropriate that George Roth would view "Fiddler on the Roof," a musical about traditions, would view the show as a family tradition.

Roth, who plays Tevye in Porthouse Theatre's production of the classic musical, said that his first taste of theater came when he was in a production of "Fiddler," along with his father and brother, in 1971. This is Roth's fourth time in the musical, and the third time he is playing Tevye, the milkman with five daughters. In this production, Roth, a Solon resident, is joined by his daughter Olivia, who plays Shprintze, one of Tevye's daughters.

"It's a part you never get tired of playing," Roth said.

Porthouse opened "Fiddler on the Roof," its final show of its 2013 season, July 25. The story takes place in Anatevka, a small, provincial Russian village where Tevye struggles to balance his traditions, especially with his daughters, with the changes in an encroaching outside world. Porthouse Theatre puts together one of its best shows ever with "Fiddler." Director Eric van Baars, a Cuyahoga Falls resident, assembles a powerhouse cast, complemented by fantastic costumes and innovative set design.

"Tevye is a father and a husband," Roth said of his character. "He's struggling with his decisions. I know that I struggled with my decision to become an actor -- would I be able to support my family. He lives with a lot of regrets, but also a lot of love. He does the best he can, you see him struggle. I think he is a good man. He's a man who is still in the 19th century. The story takes place in the turn of the 20th century. His children are in the 20th century."

Roth said he and his daughter have been able to work in several shows together, despite the challenges of finding theaters that will cast both Equity and non-Equity actors.

"It's a special experience," said Olivia. "There aren't a lot of shows that would hire someone who wasn't Equity."

George Roth said that working at Porthouse "was a special experience."

"It's like working with family," he said. "That is important, since this show is about family."

Lissy Gulick, who plays Yente, the town matchmaker, also is a veteran to "Fiddler," and the role. This is her third time reprising the role of the lovable busybody.

"It's a spunky, likable character," Gulick said of Yente. "It's a small but juicy part. I like to inhabit this world. I've done roles whose characters I would not like to meet in real life. But I would love to sit down to tea with Yente. For all her flaws, she's a likable character. She has a heart of gold."

Gulick said that she loved the musical.

"The writing is so good," she said. "It's Yiddish Shakespeare."

Logan Schmucher, who plays the Fiddler, called his experience with working in the musical "amazing."

"Everyone here is so talented," said Schmucher, a Kent resident. "Eric van Baars has such a great vision. The amount of detail he has in his brain is amazing."

Caitlyn Hamm of Northfield Center, who plays Shaindel, the mother of Motel the tailor, said that being in "Fiddler" was "incredible."

"It is such an honor, such an empowering and fulfilling moment," Hamm said. "The cast, everyone is family. We are family, that makes the whole show amazing."

Ticket and show information

"Fiddler on the Roof" will run Aug. 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, at 8 p.m. and Aug. 4, 10 and 11 at 2 p.m. There is an additional 2 p.m. matinee Aug. 10. Porthouse Theatre is on the grounds of Blossom Music Center at 1145 W. Steels Corners Road.

In addition, the traditional Green Show will be performed on the lawn before each production of "Fiddler." The Green show cast is made up of student members of the Porthouse Theatre Academy, made up of soon-to-be college students entering the Kent State musical theatre program.

Single tickets are $32 through $38 for adults, $26 through $35 for seniors and $17 through $21 for students. For details, call 330-672-3884 or visit www.porthousetheatre.com.

Porthouse Theatre features free parking and allows patrons to bring in picnics (including alcohol) to its grounds. A covered picnic pavilion is available for reservation at $2 per person or free for subscribers and is based on availability. There also is a concession stand of light snacks and beverages. Picnic tables also are available.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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