Posts Tagged ‘Fiddler on the Roof’

“Fiddler on the Roof”

Friday, June 4th, 2010

fiddler-on-the-roofAfter living in England for my senior year of college, I loved England so much that I wished to spend the rest of my life there. As soon as I had two years of teaching experience in the United States, I applied to all seven American schools in England. One of the schools had an opening, so I interviewed for the job of an English teacher in London. They liked the fact that I was fluent in Spanish, since they were short on foreign language teachers, too. So I taught English literature, with one Spanish class thrown in. I also directed the middle school play.

I chose “Fiddler on the Roof” because I acted in that play when I was a child, so I was thoroughly familiar with it. I had to pay to rent the scripts (since we were in London, royalties had to be paid each time a play was produced), and my friend who was an art teacher helped me to dream up the scenes and costumes. We went to yard sales to find everything. Each set was absolutely perfect. Nothing looked fake.

I remember trying to keep quiet the fact that I was planning to use live fire during the wedding scene. I figured it would be bfiddler-on-the-roof-2etter to apologize than to ask permission, since the whole mood of the scene relied on the candles being walked down the aisle. It was an absolutely stunning scene. I never got in trouble for using live fire.

However, my poor ghosts nearly choked to death on the dry ice fumes in the cemetery scene. Some unknown person threw the dry ice into a huge pot of boiling water, and a column of smoke rose up only seconds before the curtain opened. My husband (who was just a friend back then) fixed the situation, and the scene ended up being flawless. The mother and father were standing to the side with a spotlight on them, holding a lantern, in their white pajamas and nightcaps. The scene looked beautiful.

I absolutely loved those kids. They acted their hearts out, and during the intermission, I walked into the dressing room, and you could hear a pin drop as they looked at mfiddler-on-the-roof-3e with wide eyes. I said, “That was… fantastic!” They all exploded into applause and danced around cheering. As far as I remember, not a single person missed their lines during the first half of the play. I was astounded at how good they were.

During the scene where the father disowns his daughter, I actually got a lump in my throat. They captured the emotion of that scene.

At the end of the play, when the audience gave me a standing ovation, it nearly made me dizzy. It was surreal. A real director from London congratulated me for editing the play well. He knew the scenes, he knew what I had cut, and he said I had done an expert job directing as well. I didn’t know what to say. It could have easily been a complete flop. We’re talking about kids. Anything can happen. The whole auditorium could have gone up in flames. But, no… God was good to me.fiddler-on-the-roof-4

A Little Actress

Thursday, May 27th, 2010


“Fiddler on the Roof” was my first taste of being involved in theater. There were no try-outs at our boarding school. We were assigned a part based on how tall we were and whether we looked like the particular character. I was assigned an insignificant role as the little old lady in the cemetery scene, but I trembled and looked toothless and spoke in my very best old lady voice. The first rehearsal left the two directors laughing hysterically on the floor, and ever after, I was given bigger parts.

The make-up for the little old lady was caked quite thick, with wrinkles aging my whole face. My powdered wig made my whole head sweat. Before I went on stage, butterflies were fluttering through my stomach. I had never been on stage before. I could see lots of people in the dark audience. When the hot lights blazed on me, a surge of energy came through me, and I was able to give a good performance.

I was also a part of the band that played the songs for “Fiddler on the Roof.” I played the cymbals, and every time I crashed them, my hair would fly backwards. That was a fun instrument to play. Luckily for my parents, the two years I played cymbals, I was in boarding school, so they never had to hear me practice. (I also played the triangle and other sound effects.)

The following year, the boarding school put on the play “Heidi.” I was cast as the crippled friend of Heidi, the co-star. I remember in one of the rehearsals, one of the guys had to carry me from my wheelchair to the top of the mountain. I was so thin and wispy at the time, so this was no problem for the guy. It felt odd to be carried by a boy who was only one year older than I was. But it didn’t bother me much. What surprised and shocked me was that the boy I had a crush on (more like puppy love) was secretly instructed to give me a hug at the end of the scene where I walked on wobbly legs. When he suddenly hugged me, I turned beat red. Everyone saw. Everyone knew that I liked him, and in utter mortification, I ran away. Even the teachers were laughing. They yelled for me to come back, and I screamed, “No!” from back stage. They must have dismissed the rehearsal early that day, because there was no way I would have gone back in there!

Performing in “Heidi” was great fun, since I was in a lot of scenes. I was also a part of the choir which sang the songs that went with the play. The make-up wasn’t as hot, since I wore less make-up and no wig. At the end of the play, the audience applauded, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

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