Traditions are often the threads that tie a certain culture, people and society together. However, one production shows how breaking old traditions and ringing in the new can be the tie that binds.
“Fiddler on the Roof” will be this summer’s final musical production at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre in Orem, August 3-18th.
Neal Barth is playing the lead role of Tevye for his 14th time in this production, his first time being at BYU as a student 40 years ago.
“I’m finding new things about the role every production I’m in,” Barth said. “It’s a very poignant role that has a lot of meaning, I think. No matter how old you may be, or young you may be, or how many years have gone by since the story was set in 1905, there are so many universal truths in it.”
The story focuses on a humble dairy farmer in Tsarist Russia, struggling to preserve his traditions while his five daughters have hearts and minds of their own.
“The lessons to be learned about family relations are certainly applicable,” Barth said. “Relationships with children and parents, the independence that children seem to desire even though the wishes of their parents aren’t always met and how parents react to those desires. These situations have a lot of meaning for people.”
Jerry Elison, who is directing the show for the fifth time, said that people can also relate to the play because of the hardships the characters are going through as a family of faith under persecution.
“It has a great message and it ties into the people who colonized our area,” Elison said. “It also has special meaning to me because my ancestors came across the plains.”
Barth and Elison both said the cast and crew have been “magnificent” and “marvelous” to work with throughout this production, which means a lot coming from men of their experience.
“I don’t want to compare this to any of the other plays,” Barth said. “But it has been a really satisfying experience. This one really stands out.”
For a night of old traditions, new traditions and breaking tradition, visit the SCERA website for tickets and information.
As the character Tevye said, “Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as…as…as a fiddler on the roof!”