TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Central High School's traditional annual musical this year is all about 'Tradition!'
Students are staging "Fiddler on the Roof," where deeply rooted mores clash with a tide of modernity.
An energetic cast of 48 students bring the village and inhabitants of Anatevka to life. The iconic musical production, which also includes 40 musicians and crew members, will run for eight shows in November.
"Fiddler on the Roof" debuts Thursday, Nov. 8 and continues over the next two weekends, including Sunday matinees and Thursday evening discounts.
"It's more old-fashioned but there's humor in it for everybody," said David Stone, who portrays Tevye in the double-cast show.
The show's complex plot follows patriarch Tevye, his wife Golde, their three marriage-age daughters and the villagers at the dawn of the 20th century in the Jewish Pale of Tsarist Russia.
"The big challenge is finding the right emotion for each scene because it's different for each one," Stone said.
The veteran production team of musical director Tamara Grove, director Marilyn Tilley and choreographer Lisa Reehorst are recreating the excitement of a Broadway production.
"The show is unique, it's a real ensemble show (that) is powerfully emotional and humorous," said Tilley. "The music is beautiful, moving and fun. 'Fiddler on the Roof' has the potential to move an audience more than any other musical."
Reehorst has set multiple, full-cast numbers on the cast, using the dancing as an integral narrative component.
"What I think is unique about this particular musical, however, is that the dance scenes are necessary elements in moving the plot forward," said Reehorst. "The audience will experience excitement, joy, fear and sadness through movement and song."
The men's bottle dance during the wedding scene has been particularly challenging, with cast members rehearsing since early September. Dancers have mastered balancing a bottle on their heads during the number — no Velcro or magnets needed.
"Fiddler on the Roof" may be less dynamic and well-known than previous year's productions of "Grease" and "Oklahoma!" For those shows, students often knew all songs, dances and roles even before auditions began.
"The music is not as popular or familiar as the 'Grease' repertoire," said Grove. "However, the students adapt well to all genres because they are flexible and exposed to a variety throughout the academic year in choir."