To May 20: Fiddler on the Roof plays at Fire Hall Theatre

“Tradition!”

It began in 1947 with UND faculty, students, and community members.  They decided to organize the Grand Forks Community Theatre.  The first play, George Washington Slept Here, took place at Central High School.  After that the troupe performed wherever they could:  UND, banquet rooms at hotels, even in tents by the Red River.  In 1982, the group acquired the first fire station in Grand Forks and renamed their permanent home The Fire Hall Theatre, opening the 36th season with Dracula in Oct. 1983.  Now one of the oldest, continually producing community theatres in the nation, the Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre produces seven productions a year, theatre workshops for youth and adults, and a successful summer camp.

The 70th season will wrap up May 10-20 with the beloved musical Fiddler on the Roof.  To commemorate the milestone, director Casey Paradies (UND alum) has included 70 people in the cast and crew, a mighty undertaking.  Such a large cast would be impossible in the intimate Fire Hall Theater, so the production is being performed at the historic Masonic Lodge (423 Bruce Ave.).  Adding to the glamour of the venue are the 1915, hand-painted stage drops, considered to be among the best preserved in the nation. Frank J. Sikich (UND alum) serves as both musical director and conductor of the quintet (Tamara Auer – violin; Don Craig – reeds; Caleb Fritel – percussion; Christiane Taralson – trumpet, and Emily Bibow – piano).

In the age of Netflix and on-line streaming, when people don’t need to leave the comfort of their homes to find entertainment, how can a small community theatre continue to exist? Kathy Coudle-King, Executive Director, says, “There is a sense of community created among the participants. Every show is like a little family. Or, in the case of Fiddler on the Roof – a large family! You can’t get that sitting at home on your couch.”

How to get tickets: Call 701-777-4090 between 9-4, M- F. Box office will open at the Masonic Center, 423 Bruce Ave., 1-hour prior to curtain time on performance days.

Show dates: May 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 at 7:30 p.m.; May 13 and 20th at 2 p.m.

Cost: $21, and $18 for seniors, students, active military, first responders, teachers, and visiting Canadians. $16 for children 12 years and younger.

About the show: Winner of nine Tony Awards when it debuted in 1964, Fiddler on the Roof is the brainchild of Broadway legends, Jerome Robbins and Harold Prince; songwriters, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick; and bookwriter, Joseph Stein.

Synopsis: Set in the little village of Anatevka, the story centers on Tevye, a poor milkman, and his five daughters. With the help of a colorful and tight-knit Jewish community, Tevye tries to protect his daughters and instill them with traditional values in the face of changing social mores and the growing anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia. Rich in historical and ethnic detail, Fiddler on the Roof’s universal theme of tradition cuts across barriers of race, class, nationality and religion, leaving audiences crying tears of laughter, joy and sadness.

Cast includes: Mark Diers, Penny Millspaugh, Olga Kopp, Brenna Skallet, Stefanie Kurtz. Addison Foley, Josie Dodds, Theresa Knox, Andrew Haffner, Mare Thompson, Chris Feldmann, Paul Tandberg, Jayson McGuire, Greg Jones, Walter Lawson, Alex Rodahl, Jason Beiswenger, Kirsten Dauphinais, Jamie Serber, Justin Schepp, Zach Vodden, Skyler Schroeder, Justin Dela Cruz, Richard Millspaugh, Amy Driscoll, Lucas Reider, Jennifer Dodds, Isaac Wild, Theo Sum, Zane Johnson, Tommy Mikkelson, Lucas Rieder, Richard Linder, Richard Millspaugh, Grant Erickson, Alan Silletto, Katie Thomas, Wendy Swerdlow Pederson, Amy Lyste, Judy Streifel-Reller, Brooke Pesch, Emma Dodds, Eliza Dodds, Hannah McSparron, Joe Johnson, Andrew Forester, James Mc Arthur, Ruby Halverson, Stella Halverson, Brooklyn Cota, Emma Lyste.

Crew includes: Light Design –   Chuck Baskerville. Set Design – Casey Paradies & Kathy Coudle-King. Set Construction – Steve Reller, Mike Jackson, Bruce Keiffenheim and John Keiffenheim, Matt Kopp. Set painting: Amy Driscoll, Brenna Skallet, Amy Lyste, Zach Mathiason, Jessalinn Shimek, Stage managers: Amy Driscoll, assisted by Jana Reese. Costumes: Mare Thompson, Lynn Liepold, assisted by Amy Lyste.

Co-produced with Retrax Truck Bed Covers.  Fiddler, Tamara Auer, sponsored by Vibrant Painting and Roofing.