Accent on tradition caps off fiddler play
ASTERING a Russian-Jewish accent was a cinch for local actor and National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) graduate Stuart Lumsden.
Lumsden’s ‘‘good ear’’ for accents helped him land the lead role of Tevye in Gold Coast Little Theatre’s staging of the enduring musical Fiddler on the Roof.
Ironically, Lumsden initially hadn’t planned to audition for the starring role.
‘‘I just turned up and then thought I would have a crack and didn’t expect to be offered the lead role,’’ he says.
‘‘I’m usually not a big fan of musicals, but I really love this one.
‘‘It has such fantastic acting roles in it and some amazing musical numbers.
‘‘It’s hard to not be humming the songs as you leave.’’
Directed by Julanne Shearer, with musical direction by Mary Walters and choreography by Tess Burke, Fiddler on the Roof is set in Ukraine in 1905. It follows the story of Tevye, a devout Jewish milkman, and his five daughters, who live in a Russian village where the systematic mistreatment of Jews is rife.
Tevye is caught between his religious beliefs and trying to hold on to tradition while risking persecution.
‘‘It’s a balancing act of his personal life and the political goings-on,’’ Lumsden says.
‘‘That’s where the fiddler on the roof analogy comes into play – it represents the precariousness of his situation. He loves his family and heritage but everything is changing, moving into the 20th century.’’
Despite the story’s heavy subject matter, Lumsden says Fiddler on the Roof is not all doom and gloom.
‘‘As much as the show is a tragedy, it’s still a feelgood performance. With everything that is going on, there is still that comforting feeling that everything is going to be all right – and it’s very heartwarming,’’ he says.
GCLT’s 32-member cast also features Sue Randazza as Tevye’s wife, Golde, and Tess Burke, Chantelle Wright, Sarah Haynes, Terri Woodfine and Rochelle de Snoo as the couple’s daughters. Lumsden says shows such as TV hit Glee have helped attract a new generation of theatre-goers to traditional musical theatre works such as Fiddler on the Roof.
‘‘We expect the usual crowd of older musical lovers, but with shows like Glee becoming so popular, more and more people are enjoying the singing, dancing and acting,’’ he says.
Local theatre identity Shearer says she chose to direct Fiddler on the Roof for GCLT because of the strength of its story.
‘‘I was attracted to this play because its title was inspired by the paintings of Marc Chagall,’’ she says. ‘‘In keeping with the original Broadway production, the set for this production is influenced by Chagall’s
The Russians (clockwise from top left) Jack Harbour, Dean Mayer, Jordan Scheill, Michael Gallegos and Justin Treloar. Left: Stuart Lumsden as Tevye. paintings.’’ The show’s story of survival and family solidarity enjoys a universal appeal matched by wellknown songs including If I were a Rich Man, Sunrise Sunset, Matchmaker and Do You Love Me?.
at GCLT, Southport, opens Saturday and runs Thursdays to Saturdays until September 29 at 8pm with Sunday matinees at 2pm. Tickets $29 on 5532 2096.