Theater is great for bringing a community together

To the Editor:

With Ukraine in the news every day, the Voorheesville Middle School Drama Club production of “Fiddler on the Roof Junior” presented Nov. 18 to 20, was a timely story based on the lives of Jewish villagers in the little village of Anatevka, Ukraine.

Set in the year 1905, the bright, colorful costumes of last year’s production of “Beauty and the Beast Junior” were replaced with drab costumes, reflecting the harsh lives of the people who lived there. The play has a number of dramatic scenes, and, at the play’s end, the audience is left without the typical middle school happy ending, as the Jewish villagers are forced from their homes by the Russian government.

While the subject matter is somewhat dark, the play itself was absolutely outstanding! The director, Steven Suriano, recognizing the incredible pool of talent available to him in the current middle school classes was able to select this difficult and dramatic musical because he knew they were up to the challenge.

Desiree Chappelle Streeter, new to the area and school, did a great job as producer and will be directing the high school production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” next spring. Christina Beauregard was musical director.

I once again served on the costume committee, led by Megan Viscio. This year, there were 14 members with extra help provided by two grandmothers of cast members. Carol Costello sewed all the prayer shawls worn by those who portrayed fathers or sons, and Marie Viscio sewed pinafores for the young daughters of the main character, Tevye.

Linda Martin and staff from Karie Jean’s Closet, the family clothing thrift shop in Voorheesville, donated clothing to form or complete outfits. We are grateful for their generous and continued support. Thanks also to Congregation Beth Israel and Jeff Kimmer for their generous loan of ceremonial items, and to the Heldeberg Workshop for the loan of wooden benches.

Theater is great for bringing a community together — by providing entertainment, opportunities for new friendships, and demonstrating the importance of teamwork. The final product is dependent on the combined efforts of many people — not only the producer and directors, student performers/directors, and backstage crew, but also the parents who make up the supporting committees and those who come to enjoy the performances — for an audience is an essential part of the theater experience.

The costumes, even if I do say so myself, were fabulous! The set builders, in spite of being initially assured there would be minimal set building for this play, ended up building a village. The use of wooden pallets as the building material gave a realistic look to the structures.

Add in fencing, a large wooden cart, a well, a movable bed, and an additional roof structure for the fiddler and you have a fabulous backdrop for the performers, but something more than “minimal” for set building needs. Great job, set builders!

It was also the set builders who provided the rolling, wooden framework for the costume committee to create the ghostly, towering figure of the character, Fruma Sarah.

Lori Ryan worked hard to gather a seemingly endless collection of props.

Jasper Celentano and Jordan Cederbaum led other makeup artists in highlighting and aging the young performers, but it was the quality of their performances that really made them appear older.

Of course, the beards and facial hairs created and applied by Paula Genovesi to the sons and fathers also contributed to that illusion. From the audience perspective, it was hard to believe these were only middle school students.

In addition to serving on the costume committee, Sarah Platek photographed and printed images of the 54 cast members as themselves and again in costume, as well as our fiddler on the roof, Cheyenne LaTorre. What a great gift and memento for these students!

“Fiddler on the Roof Junior” was an opportunity for students to learn about the Jewish faith and traditions. Thank you to the Sossner and Cederbaum families for helping us honor the Jewish faith and customs.

To the cast and crew and all those involved in the 2022 production of “Fiddler on the Roof Junior,” I say mazel tov!

Sharon Breisch

New Scotland

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