With Viewmont High’s upcoming production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” running Feb. 28-March 4 and March 6-8, the tale of a Jewish man trying to uphold tradition as the outside world encroaches will be just as important as the show’s beloved songs.
“I love approaching musicals from the perspective of the book,” said director Todd Olsen. “I mine out the characters, then infuse them with the music and lyrics. From that perspective, it’s more like a play with music than a musical.”
The Tony Award-winning musical focuses on a Jewish family living in Tsarist Russia in 1905. Tevye, who has five daughters, is trying to raise his daughters according to long-held Jewish tradition, which includes choosing spouses for them. However, three of his daughters fall in love with men who are inappropriate in different ways, and these and other changes combine to shake the foundation of Tevye’s world.
“One of the reasons the show has stuck around and been so timely is its message of family and tradition,” Olsen said. “If you set your center there, you’ll be able to deal with whatever life throws your way.”
In order to not distract from the message, the set designers are going to avoid recreating the detailed village seen in other productions of the musical.
“Our set is very minimalist,” he said. “We’re relying on lights and other elements to focus on the story at hand.”
Though Olsen is a veteran director of several shows, particularly at USU Eastern in Price, this is his first time directing a show at Viewmont High. He said that one of the biggest challenges about the transition is managing the cast of 80 students that are participating in “Fiddler.”
“This is my first directing project that’s had this many people onstage,” he said. “It’s been an interesting perspective, and a good challenge for me.”
Though there are more cast members than he’s used to, Olsen said he’s been impressed with the students at Viewmont.
“They’ve been wonderful,” he said. “I’m blown away by their talent and dedication.”
Curtain for all performances is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 to $8, and can be purchased online at ezticketlive.com/checkout/eventbdate.asp?id=186. For more information, call 801-402-4200.