By Parent Contributor
May 4, 2016: There is good reason Pamela Simpson decided to put on this musical with fifty Bronxville Middle Schoolers April 29 and 30.
Through this story we can appreciate and hopefully empathize with the plight of refugees fleeing violence in their homelands. It’s also an important musical for middle school students, as they are also searching for the place where they fit in.
And it is because it's performed by teens and children who show great talent and sensitivity that this show stands out.
It honors the story's timeless exuberance but adds an innocence and lightheartedness, expressed beautifully in the central character of the Jewish milkman Tevye, played with heart-racing force by Jacoby Goodson, who lives in Anatevka, a small Russian village in the early 20th century. He is faced with the ultimate threat of an eroding family and community and social traditions that have kept his feet firmly on the ground, all while interacting and making jokes with his uninvolved God.
This show is directed by Pamela Simpson (the high school musical and vocal director) with a brilliant touch. She has taken a group of students and magically formed them into a formidable cast that brings us flawlessly and emotionally back--far away from our little village of Bronxville--to another small village, over a century ago, with moments of joy and heart-stopping drama.
The strength of character of people faced with tremendous challenges is exemplified by the character of Golde, Tevye's wife, played powerfully and beautifully by Esther Devitt. She and her five daughters, most notably Tzeitel, played by Sofia Ricciarini, Hodel, played by Alice O'Connell, and Chava, played by Olivia Conniff, belt out their songs with such great emotion and heart that bumps the size of grapefruit appear on your arms.
This show brings us way up when Motel, the penniless village tailor, played with such strength and virtue by Bjorn Samios, asks Tevye for his daughter's hand in marriage because, with courage, he states that "even a tailor deserves some happiness."
The depth of the story takes us into many different topics, several of which have been hotly debated recently in the elections, and on this stage most eloquently and with a classical theatrical performance by George Cooney, who brilliantly plays the young radical Perchik.
The cast and crew performed well beyond their years and could well draw crowds during a summer revival if this ever was planned. The young talents were too many to name here and many of them will shine in the years ahead. Other notable performances included Isaiah Weir as the Rabbi, Ella Crawford as Yente the match maker, Max Laval as Lazar Wolf, Elania Poulos as Grandma Tzeitel, and Lorelei Heath, who plays a bone-shaking Fruma Sarah. And the crew pulled it all off with great dexterity and deft.
“It has been such an absolute joy to work with these students,” Simpson said. “Their professionalism, dedication, and hard work have been evident since our first interest meeting. They have all been so kind and supportive of one another and it’s beautiful to witness.”
Taking the helm as vocal director this year is Bronxville graduate Hannah Geiling. Charlie Diserens, also a Bronxville graduate, was the crew and technical director, while Jason Summers is returning for his second season as choreographer.
As part of the theater experience, Simpson said they’ve been holding workshops to teach students how technology plays a role in theater. The students have been empowered to use the new sound and lighting systems in the auditorium to bring a new level of professionalism and excellence to their work.
“The beauty of Fiddler is its simplicity,” Simpson said. “There are no revolving stages or pyrotechnics. We follow the lives of the people in the village of Anatevka and, in the end, we hope our vision of the story leaves you holding those dear to you a little closer.”
That it most certainly did.
Fiddler Amelia Bornman
Tevye Jacoby Goodson
Golde Esther Devitt
Tzeitel Sofia Ricciarini
Hodel Alice O'Connell
Chava Olivia Conniff
Bielke Gianna Vigorito
Shprintze Elizabeth Burnell
Yente Ella Crawford
Motel Bjorn Samios
Perchik George Cooney
Lazar Wolf Max Laval
To see photos of the actors, click here:
Pictured here: Jacoby Goodson as Tevye and Esther Devitt as Golde singing "Do you love me?" from Fiddler on the Roof.
Photos by Scott Goodson