Ac­cent on tradition caps off fid­dler play

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE 'N' LOUD -

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.

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