Performing arts collaborates on Fiddler on the Roof


Lance Aileo

The cast of Fiddler on the Roof performs while the pit orchestra plays in the background.

On April 28-30, Theatre on the Hill performed Fiddler on the Roof. The musical is the last play of the current school year and featured students from both theatre and music in a performing arts combination show.

The musical takes place in a Jewish town called Anatevka. The story centers on a milkman named Tevye, who attempts to maintain tradition even as outside influences create change in the town and his daughter desires to marry for love rather than submit to his matchmaking. 

The actors of Theatre on the Hill performed the play with help from the instrumentalists of the pit orchestra, who provided live music. 

Fiddler on the Roof was sophomore Lance Aileo’s first play with Theatre on the Hill. He played a teacher and revolutionary named Perchik, who comes to the village and shakes up the traditions. 

“ I really liked the role because I had a few lines and a really fun solo,” Aileo said. “I really liked that the character was very different from the others in the play and a catalyst for the change in the village.”

Aileo credits his acting experience in four middle school plays with providing the necessary skills and previous knowledge to effectively perform.

“That gave me a lot of experience in memorizing lines and having a stage presence,” Aileo said. 

Freshman Daniel Robinson played Motel Kamzoil, a tailor who marries Tevye’s oldest daughter. 

“I thought this role was really fun to play as this character grows from just a poor tailor to a man,” Robinson said. 

To prepare for their performances, the cast of Fiddler on the Roof practiced most days after school in the weeks leading up to opening night. 

“The biggest challenge for me was memorizing lines [during practices],” Robinson said. 

In order to become familiar with the play, the actors used individual preparation in addition to the group practices. Aileo’s strategy involved utilizing the movie adaptation of the story. 

“For me, I watched the movie a lot and that really helped me get into character,” Aileo said. “Other prep I did was reading over my lines many times to get them memorized.”

The most challenging part of the play for Aileo was his solo, which required practice to both memorize the words and perfect the vocals.

“The biggest challenge I had was singing my solo because the ending note was just out of my [vocal] range,” Aileo said. “Before every performance, I would warm up a lot backstage. I overcame that hurdle but it gave me some headache.”

The pit orchestra supported the performance on stage by providing the music. The musicians practiced every day for almost a month to prepare for their parts in the performance.  Senior Emma Jo Braun, who plays the flute, is proud of how the group was able to learn the music.

“My favorite part of Fiddler on the Roof was how rewarding it was when we finally were able to do full runs without completely crashing and burning,” Braun said. “The music was not the ‘watered down’ version that is made for high schoolers. We played the Broadway arrangement, so it was very difficult.”

According to Braun, the most difficult part of the pit orchestra’s job was playing their music with confidence.

“Almost every instrumentalist’s part was the only one of its kind,” Braun said. “So we were all playing solos a lot of the time which can make it difficult to not get nervous.”

It was an enjoyable experience for Braun to be able to perform for a theatre production since musicians are not normally a part of school plays on the scale that they were for Fiddler on the Roof. 

“It was a very fun experience,” Braun said. “I was part of the pit orchestra my sophomore year as well for Annie. It was my first time doing pit and there were a lot less musicians, which makes me appreciate this year’s show even more. There were a lot more of us. I definitely recommend joining [in the future]!”

Robinson appreciates the energy that the pit orchestra brought to the musical.

“Having the orchestra there definitely made the experience more real and I enjoyed that aspect,” Robinson said. 

Braun agrees that the musicians were valuable to the performance, and she is thankful that Theatre on the Hill chose a student pit orchestra rather than opting for a pre-recorded soundtrack as other high school theatre programs do. 

“I think the presence of a live pit orchestra allowed some leeway for the vocalists, and for us,” Braun said. “We were all able to work together to alter and change up certain parts as well as cut any pieces that were not needed.”

She feels that the performances went very well, especially on the later nights after they had made improvements and calmed their nerves following opening night. 

“I think the performances went really well,” Braun said. “Opening night we were all pretty nervous, so I would say that it wasn’t our best. But our best show run was definitely Friday night.”

Aileo enjoyed each night, and his favorite parts were being able to act with the rest of the cast and having his friends come to see him perform. 

“There’s a lot of satisfaction that comes with showing off something that you’ve worked on for a while,” Aileo said.