SUU Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Fiddler in New Production

Published: February 23, 2015 | Author: Tommy Gugino | Read Time: 3 minutes

Actresses in the SUU production of Fiddler on the Roof

In 1970, before Fiddler on the Roof became an American musical theatre classic, Fred Adams, then an instructor at the Southern Utah State College (now Southern Utah University), brought the musical to Cedar City and became the first group outside of Broadway to stage the show.

Once again SUU’s College of Performing and Visual Arts will celebrate the award-winning play and the persistence of its original SUU director by reproducing the classic.

During its initial run on Broadway, Adams and several SUSC students visited New York City and saw several Broadway shows, one of which being Fiddler.

Mesmerized by what he saw, Adams immediately began making matches between the villagers in Fiddler’s Anateyka, Russia and the original founders of Cedar City. And because of these similarities Adams took a chance and applied for the rights of the show.

With a letter sent asking for the rights to the producers of the production, Adams waited only to be disappointed that rights would not be available for other theatres to perform for a few more years because of it’s current Broadway ties.

However, in the letter Adams saw another path he could take. Addressing a new envelope this time to the Music Theatre International to request the rights, but once again turned down and was informed that all rights were owned by the Israeli government and he could not have them.

Adams knew he couldn’t stop there, so with few connections to the Israeli government in his pocket, he wrote to them about the situation. Months later, with a heavy envelope was spotted in his mailbox, littered with stamps he received what he had been tenaciously searching for: the green light on producing Fiddler on the Roof in Cedar City, the first non-Broadway group to ever do so.

“It is one of the classic pieces of American theatre. It’s a musical that should have never been successful,” explained Adams. “It’s a downer, it ends tragically...and it speaks openly about a downtrodden, beaten, defeated people, but it’s a story all can connect with.”

Now with the musical once again making its appearance at SUU, the story of Tevye, father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions, as outside influences encroach upon the family's lives, will be brought to life once again.

Peter Sham, who plays Tevye in the SUU production and associate professor of theatre, said of the show, “There is something so special doing this show inside the University for me because in a way the girls that play my daughters are my children. During their time as my students they’ve had their bumps and bruises and I’ve put little Band-Aids on them and helped them through it.”

Sham also said the production is special for several reasons including Shauna Mendini, dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts, who is reproducing Jerome Robbins’ Tony Award winning choreography from the original Broadway production for the show.

Elisa Black, who plays Fruma-Sarah in the production, said of the musical, “It’s a good show. It’s very well written and even though I’ve done it a few times before. It’s very fun and active with lots of big (production) numbers and lots of memorable pieces.”

Fiddler will be performed on February 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and March 2 at 7:30 pm with a matinee performance on Saturday February 28 at 2 p.m. with all shows in the Randall L. Jones Theatre.

Ticket prices are $15 for adult general admission, $12 for SUU alumni with card, $7 for youth and free for SUU faculty/staff and students with a valid I.D. For tickets, call the ticket office at (435) 586-7872, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or order online at SUU's College of Performing Arts.

Photo: SUU students Jordyn Caldwell, Jocelyn Taylor and Samantha Allred in SUU's production. 

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