Fiddler on the Roof13BISMARCK, ND — “Fiddler on the Roof” could be regarded as an example of when cultural traditions can go awry. Or at the very least, make life very interesting or cause complications between parents, their children and innocent bystanders in a changing political and social landscape.

The 1905 story follows Tevye, a milkman, husband and father in Tsarist Russia, who tries to follow their Jewish tradition of having a village matchmaker find husbands for his five daughters. The plot thickens as the older daughter becomes less enthusiastic about the idea and convinces her sisters how little control they have over their romantic destinies, especially because they are poor. Soon, cultural tradition collides with the traditional forces of love. A musical comedy then ensues.

Fiddler on the Roof3The University of Mary Theater Department brings this epic musical to Bismarck’s Belle Mehus Auditorium with 7 p.m. performances Thursday, March 2, through Saturday, March 4. There’s also a 2 p.m. matinee showing on Saturday. Tickets are $10, students get in for $5 with the showing of a student ID and can be purchased online at the Bismarck Event Center’s etix site .

Fiddler on the Roof12“The play’s relevance survives until today, when many cultures are losing touch with their traditions,” said Dan Bielinski, theater director at the University of Mary. “Spiritual and moral traditions, in particular, are trodden underfoot by contemporary society, and those who hang on to those traditions are scorned and even persecuted as the Jews of Russia were at the time of the play.”

Fiddler on the Roof10The cast and crew and orchestra are composed of more than 80 University of Mary students. Dr. Tom Porter is musical director of the show. Professor Dennis Gowen is conductor of the pit orchestra, and professor Kathy Henjum is vocal coach. Alumnae Madeline Schueller is choreographer.

Fiddler on the Roof9It’s no wonder that “Fiddler on the Roof” has been popular around the world for so long, despite a very unfavorable first review after it opened on Broadway in 1964. In 1971, just a few months before the “Fiddler” film’s premiere, the show became the longest–running musical on Broadway, playing over 3,000 performances and winning nine of the 10 nominated Tony Awards. Its success is ironic, considering producers feared that, due to its ethnically based story, the musical wouldn’t appeal to a broad base.

Fiddler on the Roof11During a 2014 interview with the LA Times, set designer Robin Wagner commented, “’Fiddler on the Roof” re-created musical theater. Until ‘Fiddler,’ musicals spoke only to the immediate generation. ‘Fiddler’ showed how a musical could speak to all generations and cultures.”