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Saakar Production’s Fiddler on the Roof

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April 2007
Saakar Production’s Fiddler on the Roof

Review

Saakar Production's Fiddler on the Roof

About Breaking Traditions

Local Indian theater group does justice to an American classic

Glimpses from the play. Fiddler on the Roof has been a long-time favorite of theater buff Dr Swaroop Nyshadham, co-director of this production, appearing in the photo on the top left.

"Even the worst husband, God forbid, is better than no husband, God forbid!" Yente, the matchmaker, insists in the musical comedy Fiddler on the Roof. Local Indian theater troupe Saakaar explored this premise in their first undertaking of a classic Broadway musical. The vibrant performance was staged at North Atlanta High School this past February and March.

Because the musical required a larger cast than some of Saakaar's previous productions, the troupe reached into the community for additional actors. The new recruits included seasoned vocalists as well as people with little singing experience. Co-directors Swaroop Nyshadham and Nisha Mannan synthesized the musical over seven months of rehearsals. Ghazal vocalist and guitarist Sam Johnson took charge of musical direction and helped singers of different abilities create a unified sound

The musical narrative follows Tevye (Nyshadham), the milkman, as he struggles to preserve traditional Jewish customs in the face of overwhelming cultural change. As the "Papa" of five girls, he proudly takes on the responsibility of choosing worthy husbands for his five daughters. When his children fall for men who clash with his prescribed criteria, Tevye finds himself choosing between his beloved traditions and his daughters' happiness.

Attention to details, from costumes to sets, as well as the caliber of acting was reflective of the fact that this is the work of theater buffs who come together in a labor of love. Players in the show wore traditional Jewish attire, including head covering for both men and women, to create the cultural backdrop for the unfolding action. A rickety horse-drawn cart superimposed on the fa�ade of a humble village home contributed to the quaint setting.

Cast members delivered their lines in a Yiddish accents. Nyshadham's animated performance as Tevye brightened the show with upbeat dances, boisterous songs, and witty musings. The women who played Tevye's daughters added feisty gestures to their otherwise demure movements, revealing the daughters' independence of spirit.

Strategic lighting supported the action by coloring the mood into each scene. Spotlights focused the audience's attention on individuals who belted out solos or delivered monologues. Orange lighting warmed the stage during the nostalgic song "Sunrise, Sunset." In this scene silhouettes represented memories from the past, while actors in the foreground complemented this background action with mellifluous harmonies.

This was a novel collaboration between two nonprofits, as ticket sales from the performances benefited both Saakaar and Child Relief and You (CRY).

By SUPRAJA NARASIMHAN


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