The Lanesboro Community Theater is proud to present the beloved musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” Robin Krom plays Tevye, center, and he is surrounded by his five daughters, played by, clockwise from bottom left, Esme Decker, Elsa Hennessy-Barnes, Laura Nelson, Ruth Higbe-Harrah and Isabelle Ekstrom.  SUBMITTED PHOTO
The Lanesboro Community Theater is proud to present the beloved musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” Robin Krom plays Tevye, center, and he is surrounded by his five daughters, played by, clockwise from bottom left, Esme Decker, Elsa Hennessy-Barnes, Laura Nelson, Ruth Higbe-Harrah and Isabelle Ekstrom. SUBMITTED PHOTO
One of the hardest things for a human being to adapt to is change — changing schools, changing jobs, moving to a different town or home, deviating from tradition.
Over the past 100 years, millions of people have seen how one particular family dealt with tradition in the musical "Fiddler on the Roof." In the next couple of weeks, area residents will once again have the opportunity to see the family's story at the St. Mane Theater in Lanesboro, put on by the Lanesboro Community Theater.
There will be six shows offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the next two weekends. On Fridays and Saturdays, July 18, 19, 25 and 26, the curtain will rise for the performance at 7 p.m. and on Sundays, July 20 and 27, the show will begin at 2 p.m. in the St. Mane Theater in downtown Lanesboro.
Tickets are now available in advance for $14 per adult and $12 for seniors and students at the Lanesboro Arts Center. To order tickets, call the Lanesboro Arts Center at (507) 467-2446.
"Fiddler on the Roof" is directed by Barbara Keith who chose the musical because it is so well known and loved.
"We have always done small cast musicals, usually about six people,” she said. “This year we decided to do a large musical and get more people involved in it. I thought 'Fiddler on the Roof' would be a great one for it because it is such a well known and loved musical.”
And, involving more people, she did. The cast for the musical includes about 43 people. Because of the sheer size of the cast, questions arose concerning the ability to fit that many people on stage.
"We practiced in the community center the first few weeks where there is more room. But once we got to the St. Mane, we were able to deal with the changes and make it work." Keith related.
Because of the limited space in the theater, most of the props will be stored outside in the parking lot during the performances. During scene changes, rather than having a stage crew move props around, the cast members will remove the unnecessary items for that scene, moving them to the parking lot. Many of these props did take imagination to put together.
"We try to get by with a shoestring budget. This is an expensive musical with royalties and all, so we have to get creative," Keith mentioned.
Each of the cast members auditioned for parts prior to starting rehearsals at the end of April, many of them turning out because they wanted to be in a play. Since the show is a musical, they were asked to sing a familiar song, say some lines and, if they auditioned to be one of the five daughters, do a little dancing number.
"They showed up because they wanted to be in a play. I took everyone who auditioned," Keith noted.
Among the actors are an entire family of five, two families of three, brothers and sisters and husbands and wives. The youngest is 4 years old and though the youngsters may not have lines, one sequence will make the audience walk away smiling.
"At the end of the show, the matchmaker will be bringing out the young boys and girls in the musical and matching them together. They steal the show," said Keith.
"I wasn't sure how this would work because of the large age difference, but those who have acted before are teaching those people who have never acted before and that's what makes it so fun to see them develop as actors," stated cast member Robin Krom.
Of course, a must with musicals is the music section. About eight people comprise the orchestra for the performances. Many of these musicians tackle double duty as they are also in the cast. Of course, since the title of the musical is "Fiddler on the Roof," the orchestra would not be complete without the fiddler. This crew's fiddler is a 9-year-old who has been playing the fiddle for many years already, though she will not be on stage playing.
Now with such a large cast and orchestra combined, one might think there would be a few people who may not know who the others are, especially when they come from other areas and towns to be in the play. But this is by no means the case.
"We have had people from Chatfield and as far as Dexter come and be a part of our plays in the past. We do cooperate with the Spring Grove and Chatfield theaters too,” Keith explained. “Whenever we take a break from rehearsal, I encourage the actors to go and talk with someone they have never talked to before. Everyone kind of knows each other when they are in the plays.”
But one of the most exciting parts of being a part of the Community Theater is because it is a great way to get people involved.
"We have kids in the play and people who have never been involved and acted before. We have people that take pictures and crop them and others loan props. There are also new people helping with costuming and the set. Everyone is helping with everything," Keith stated.
Working with all the cast members and others involved in the musical creates a fun and exciting experience. Every night holds something new for them, she added.
"Every night is fun. I have had the time of my life doing this. I had never done something like this before I had retired and it's been a great experience," stated Bill Swanson, a cast member who is also playing the accordion in the orchestra.
The cast members are very enthusiastic about the opportunity to participate in this musical. Several have gotten so excited they have grown beards to fit into character — just for this musical, including Krom who plays the lead character, Tevye.
Esme Decker, Elsa Hennessy-Barnes, Laura Nelson, Ruth Higbe-Harrah and Isabelle Ekstrom will portray Tevye's five daughters.
"This group is a treasure to work with and it is so large. It is fun to work with people that I have never worked with before," Krom stated.
Krom has been in plays since he was in seventh grade, working with almost every genre of theater. He even directed a play, "Radio Gals," just last year and found it to be fun on the other side of the stage.
However, Krom said, one added joy of this theatrical experience is being able to see the young people develop in acting.
"I love to see how the young people grow into the theater," he commented.
Working with Keith has also conveyed a great experience to Krom.
"I have been in all sort of genres of plays and this is one of the larges ensembles I have been in,” he related. “It is neat to work with Barb since she tried to cast everyone who auditioned. She suggests talking with someone I never knew before and, at the end, we all become close friends because we basically live with each other once the rehearsals start.”
Not only that, but he has noticed Keith's great organization of the cast.
"This has been so organized that people aren't standing around or waiting to do something, except for the last few weeks when everyone is on call," he noted.
Those coming to the shows will be in for a treat, once again seeing the story of Tevye and his family battling against the traditions and arranged marriages of the day. Plus there are many familiar songs the audience may hear often such as "Matchmaker, Matchmaker." Of course, there is the added pleasure of seeing friends and neighbors on stage.
"It's really fun to see friends and neighbors on stage. The tickets are selling already and going fast," Keith informed.
There will be a few other productions put on by the Community Theater this year as well. Sometime in August filming will begin for showing silent movies that are generally three fairy tales and a few filler movies. The public will be able to see these movies on Sept. 6 and 7 in Sylvan Park, after dark.
In addition, the Lanesboro Community Theater plans to put on a winter show again this year. Last year they were unable to perform in the winter due to renovations in the St. Mane Theater building.
For now, however, the focus is on "Fiddler on the Roof."
"I'm already really proud of this production and there still is a week left," Keith declared.