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Darby's 'Fiddler' also a history lesson for students

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Hilliard Darby High School drama students will present Fiddler on the Roof from May 2-4 at the high school's performing arts center, 4200 Leppert Road.

Director Justin Gates said he chose Fiddler of the Roof for a number of reasons, including the opportunity to provide an educational experience for his students and as a nod to the 50th anniversary of the musical's original Broadway opening in 1964.

"I (also) chose Fiddler because I had such an amazing time doing the play when I was a student," said Gates, who performed in Fiddler on the Roof in 1989 while attending Hilliard High School.

Gates teaches history at Darby High School and said he felt a responsibility to provide his students the same educational and dramatic experience he had performing the play.

"It's an excellent educational tool," Gates said.

The musical is set in Russia in the early 20th century, before the start of World War I.

"There are overtures of communism and lessons in the Jewish faith," Gates said.

To further the education of his students, Gates said, he will invite his former drama director, Robin Brenneman, to explain the traditions of the Judaism as they apply to the play's script.

Senior Geoff Gear will portray Tevye and senior Danni Hepp will play his wife, Golde.

Teyve is a poor milkman whose traditions and faith are tested by the oldest three of his five daughters who seek to marry contrary to traditional laws. His wife, while respectful of her husband, shows her independence in the crises.

"Teyve is faced with letting go of his daughters who are choosing not to marry in the way he prefers," Gear said.

Hepp describes her character as "sassy."

"She isn't afraid to speak her mind and to stand up to Tevye," Hepp said.

Gates said the cast for the production is excellent and the set produced by Ed Daniel is "fantastic."

In a scene depicting Tevye's dream -- more a nightmare -- Gates said, 8-foot-tall ghosts will be wheeled across the stage.

Fiddler on the Roof was adapted into a film in 1971 and has been revived on Broadway on numerous occasions.

The best-known songs from the musical are If I Were a Rich Man and Sunrise, Sunset.

The musical will be staged at 7 p.m. Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 4.

Tickets cost $8 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at darbytheatre.com.

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