Fiddler on the Roof Brings Down the House


Cast, crew, and pit bowing after the Saturday show. Photo courtesy of Mallory Reid.

Mallory Reid, Reporter

Almost as quickly as the curtain opened on the spring musical, it closed. Over three days and four performances, the members of Chamblee OnStage presented a classic tale: Fiddler on the Roof.
Amazing actors and actresses, musicians, and crew, Chamblee’s own, auditioned and worked tirelessly to put on this incredible production. The musical follows a family of seven living in a small Jewish town in Russia facing a cultural divide: breaking the traditional marriage rules of their religion or maintaining the balance and harmony that their religion provides.
Part of the audience on opening night, Malena Amador (‘23) shares her experience.
“I went on Thursday, opening night, and initially, you know, I’m not gonna lie I was a little hesitant to see how it would go, but when I tell you the second that they started singing, I was in shock. I thought [their performance was] incredible,” said Amador.
Amador and others in attendance saw – and heard – a lot of Bo Mallard (‘23), who played the lead character, Tevye.
“My role is Tevye. He is the father of the main family. He has five daughters, a wife and in the beginning of the show, he is seen as some fun, outlandish kind of guy. He’s really nice, but as the show progresses and his daughters start marrying off and breaking tradition, he starts to become more and more taxed,” said Mallard. “He becomes more of an angry guy, very stern and that he feels he owes a lot to his family.”
Mallard has been in a total of 22 shows and shares in what ways his acting journey has evolved over the years.
“I’ve been acting since fourth grade. I’ve been in 22 [shows] and I wanted to do the musical because I’ve done the musical every year and I feel like I had a good shot at getting the lead. I feel like [my hard work has] paid off. I really, really like the role,” said Mallard.
Although the journey was not easy, Mallard embraced the role as Tevye, despite not being a father with five daughters.
“When auditions came out, I was very excited. I got the role I wanted,” said Mallard. “Starting [rehearsal], we were just going through blocking which [included] where to stand during the music and dancing. I was just going through the motions, but up until a month ago I started to do character work trying to figure out how I should act as this person because obviously I’m not a father with five children. It’s a little bit hard to imagine and I think my biggest challenges have been trying to figure out exactly what that would be like, and how you would feel. You want to be supportive to your kids, but they’re also breaking traditions and you’re very upset with them.”
Despite being nervous for opening night, Mallard was confident that all his hard work would show on stage.
“Expectations for the show, I mean, amazing, [opening night] was amazing. First, I’ll say [during] opening night I felt really good but before opening night, I was a little bit nervous but I knew what I had to do. I felt like I was confident, but still a bit nervous,” said Mallard. “I think we’re having judges coming and I definitely want to get nominated for an award.”
With Fiddler on the Roof being Mallard’s last high school show, Mallard shares where his acting journey is headed.
“I’m actually in another musical right now over at my church. It’s Godspell and I’m playing Jesus. But after that, I think I’m going to do a summer camp with a musical. Then after that, I think that’s it for high school,” said Mallard. “I definitely think I will continue to do theater, in college, and so on. I’m not sure if that’s going to be a livelihood thing or just something I do for fun.”
Austin Wilson (‘23) played Tevye’s wife, Golde, and shares the point of view of playing a wife who is trying to support her five daughters and husband while they are marrying off and getting further and further from their religion that she cherishes.
“I play Golde in the show and she is the mother figure of the entire show. She’s very strong-willed and strict, and kind of short-tempered. She likes to yell a lot but deep down, it’s all from caring about her family,” said Wilson.
Wilson shares how she adjusted playing Golde.
“It’s definitely been a journey. I don’t think I really started getting into character until we started doing costumes and stuff,” said Wilson. “I was obviously feeling nervous before opening night, but we got to perform for Kittredge Magnet School’s fourth graders Wednesday morning which was actually so adorable. They were just giggling the whole time. It was so cute and fun.”
While playing the lead in any musical is never easy, Wilson shares her routine before she steps out on stage.
“Before I go on [stage] everyone lines up backstage, because we come out in a line and I’m the first person that comes out so I high five every single person in the cast before I come out. Then in the beginning of the show, I’m next to Ben Amaya who plays Mendel and he and I do deep breaths before we go on,” said Wilson.
Wilson gives her perspective on how opening night of Fiddler went.
“Last night with an actual audience went super well, because we rehearsed it so much. I forget how funny the show actually is, we’re all just so used to hearing the jokes. Everyone was laughing so much and it was just so encouraging and honestly the better the audience are, the better the performances are because it kind of encourages the shows. That’s why the shows that are on weekday nights, that have more students are always so much better.”
Wilson shares in what ways musical theater has made an impact throughout her high school years.
“I first auditioned for the musical theater class as an eighth grader, because I had done theater in middle school and loved it and just wanted to continue doing it. So I auditioned for it and since then, I think I’ve been in seven shows. It’s just been a super fundamental part of my high school career and I mean, it’s probably the organization I’m most involved in. It’s a great community, it’s so super accepting and just so fun. I love it,” said Wilson.
Post Show
The last show of Fiddler on the Roof was held on Saturday, February 25. Cast and crew share what they’ll miss most about Fiddler and in what ways this show impacted them.
Olivia Grove (‘24), who played Hodel, gives insight from her perspective on opening night.
“Stepping on the stage for the first time and hearing the people who were clapping to the song I realized, ‘oh, people are actually going to enjoy the show,’ but the most rewarding part was the reaction to the dream sequence. The energy for that song was great,” said Grove.
The character Hodel, portrays a strong, independent girl who always followed the tradition of her religion, which meant a matchmaker finding a young girl’s husband, that is until a certain love interest came into Hodel’s life.
“I think Hodel, the daughter that I played, is the role so far that has been the most similar to me, which has also kind of made it the hardest to figure out how to play,” said Grove. “I think there was a lot of soul searching and like introspection that happened in order to navigate how she was reacting to the world. As far as the vocals go, it was pretty comfortable for me, obviously, the Frumma Sarah scene with the ghosts was a little vocally challenging. But I think a lot of it was just adrenaline. I kind of just got up on that ladder and started singing and whatever came out was what came out.”
While playing two characters in the show, Grove also took on the challenge of being the co-vocal coach with producer and musical theater teacher Linda Lirette.
“I was the only vocal coach this year with Ms. Lirette who is technically the vocal director. We worked together closely throughout the production,” said Grove. “We had dance captains and we had our wonderful choreographer: Zach [Phelps], who helped create all the choreography. I also worked closely with Nick Harrison, our pit conductor, who’s incredibly talented. It was definitely a group effort to get all the music stuff down.”
Grove gives insight on the ways her and her cast members have developed a tight knit relationship because of the theme of family and unity that Fiddler portrays.
“I think in this show, more so than any other show I’ve been in, we’ve been able to grow super close because the theme of family and tradition has sort of tied the whole company together. We have so many wonderful seniors in the company who are leaving, like Bo and I have been doing theater together since we started doing shows. It’s going to be really hard to say goodbye but I’m so excited to see what they’re all going to do in the future,” said Grove.
Along with the amazing cast, there is so much more that goes into producing a musical including the set design, the cast’s hair and makeup, the background music, publicity and all the other integral details that the crew and pit take care of behind the scenes.
Peyton Crenshaw, head of publicity, shares her experience taking on the social media aspect of Fiddler on the Roof.
“I basically take all of the pictures, do the headshots, and make all the Instagram posts and TikToks which has been really good,” said Crenshaw. “I would say the hardest part of publicity is coming up with new ideas and following the trends to get people to come.”
During the show, Creshaw stays by the wings and captures moments of the cast members that she will then edit and post on the Chamblee OnStage Instagram later.
“During the show, I sit in the wings and me and Samantha [Booher], who’s also on publicity, take pictures. We also take pictures backstage and that’s basically all we do during the show. Then during intermission we sweep the stage because there’s feathers and stuff,” said Crenshaw. “It’s something for me to do every day after school and it’s just very time consuming, but it’s interesting and fun.”
Another huge part of any musical is the set. Eleanor Quinlan, the captain of set design shares the challenges and most rewarding parts of being a part of the crew.
“I was the set build captain so I designed and helped my team build everything that’s on stage. [We also] worked with other crews to make sure it all flows together,” said Quinlan. “The hardest part about my role was making sure everything fit together and that we built a set that was not only practical, but also made a fun and enjoyable musical. [The set] is important cuz it’s the only thing that [the audience] uses to let them know where they are. The houses, buildings, chairs, benches, it’s everything that they use [to know their surroundings].”
Quinlan shares that her favorite part of Fiddler was working with her fellow crew members on the weekends, building the set for hours at a time.
“The most rewarding part was seeing it all come together on the last of those shows,” said Quinlan. “My favorite memory from Fiddler has to be those Saturdays where we come out here for eight hours a day working with [other crew members] getting everything done and just all working together. It’s depressing [that it’s over] but it’s a good feeling [in that] it’s done but also depressing [in that], it’s over. I don’t want it to be over but it is what it is,” said Quinlan.
Tiller Johnson (‘24), who played Tzeitel, was initially surprised by the audience’s reaction as she had low expectations going into opening night.
“I thought [the musical] wasn’t going to be great but everyone said it was really good. It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be and it really came together in the last week,” said Johnson. “I feel like [the audience] thought a lot of stuff was funny that I didn’t really realize was. They also were shocked at some parts that I guess I kind of got used to because I knew the story. But to see their reactions was interesting because they’re from an outside perspective.”
Johnson relates to her role as Tzeitel in the older sister aspect but not so much the emotional vulnerability Tzeitel portrays throughout the musical.
“I feel like her personality in general and how she’s a little bit bossy or like she’s the older sister is kind of like me, but then also she was really more emotionally vulnerable at parts which is very much not like me. So those were a bit more difficult but I think it was fun,” said Johnson.
At first, Johnson had a hard time adjusting to the vulnerable acting that Tzeitel portrays.
“I didn’t know it was kind of difficult. It was a little bit awkward at first because having to pretend to cry on stage in front of people is unusual, but I feel like just the people that I was around that supported me made it a lot easier for me to do,” said Johnson.
Gabriella Mayes (‘24) who played the matchmaker, Yente, describes her initial reaction to the role.
“I did not love [the role] for a really long time. But I love it now,” said Mayes. “[At first] it was kind of embarrassing, but I’m not embarrassed anymore because it was actually really funny.”
At first, Mayes expected the audience to not initially love Fiddler on the Roof because of how long it is.
“I’m not gonna lie I was kind of expecting it to be bad because it’s kind of boring but I think everyone loved it so I think it turned out good. Because it was three hours long like who’s going to want to sit through that but then they were like, ‘no, it was really good,’ so I loved it,” said Mayes.
While the cast and crew are the stars of the musical, there would be no musical without the viewers and audience.
Anatomy and biology teacher Leila Warren shares her thoughts on the musical.
“I didn’t know anything about Fiddler [initially] but the set was amazing, and the lead actor, who I have never seen in my life, I totally believed he was an older man. He sang and talked with an accent. It was great,” said Warren.
Warren’s favorite part of the show was the dream sequence starring Olivia Grove.
“The dream sequence [was] 100% my favorite part. [I was] blown away. I went and found Olivia [and said] ‘Oh my gosh, you’re amazing.’ It was amazing. That was my favorite part,” said Warren.
Junior Abby Milner (‘24) gives insight on her musical experience.
“I went to the musical last year, Newsies, and it was actually really good. I went once with my family and once with a group of friends and going with friends was really fun. [Newsies] was actually a really interesting musical and had an interesting plot,” said Milner.
For this year’s musical, Milner had a great experience and is looking forward to the 2024 musical.
“Fiddler on the Roof was a really fun musical to go to with my friends and I can’t wait to go see what they will put on the stage next year,” said Milner.
Everyone can agree that this year’s musical will be hard to top. However, look out for the 2024 Spring musical announcement in May of 2023.