Summer musical ‘Fiddler’ opens at the Civic

The Summer Sounds Musical production of “Fiddler on the Roof” features a cast of 142. Pat Sutphin /

The last two months have been anything but easy for Sounds Summer Musical.

The Idaho Falls community theater group was preparing to stage, “Les Miserables,” when the production hit a snag. An attempt to amend language in the script considered too coarse for local audiences was rejected by the licensing agency that controls the play. So, the show was canceled.

“We’ve had some challenges,” Musical Director Gayleen Meservey said. “We were set to do ‘Les Miserables,’ but … ended up having to change the play in April to ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ Despite that, things are going well. The cast (members) have been fantastic and put in a lot of hard work to get ready for opening night.”

So, the show will go on. “Fiddler On The Roof” opens at 7:30 p.m. today. Performances also are scheduled Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.

After the “Les Miserables” cancellation, cast members were offered roles in Fiddler.

“We kept the majority of the chorus, and a few of the previous cast members have stayed on,” Meservey said. “The roles of Tevye, Motel and Hodel are all played by cast members from the first show. They have all adapted very well, I’ve been impressed by the way the cast has handled this, everyone has been so professional.”

“Fiddler on the Roof” debuted on Broadway in 1964. Jerry Brock and Sheldon Harnick wrote the music and lyrics for the show, which is based on the book, “Tevye and his Daughters,” by Sholem Aleichem.

While the musical is set in the early 1900s, Meservey said it remains relevant today.

“It’s based on the tales of Russian Jews around the turn of the century,” Meservey said. “There was a great deal of violence and riots. It’s similar to what has been going on in the Ukraine right now. On top of that, the play deals with love, family problems and a lot of issues most people can relate to in some way.”

The story centers around Tevye, his wife and their five daughters.

Tevye is played by Steve Bird, while his wife, Golde will be portrayed by Lonna Joy Smoot. Their daughters are played by Malia Kerr as Tzeitel, Cassidy King as Hodel, Katie Myers as Chava, Erin Black as Shprintze and Emma Storer as Bielke.

“Tevye struggles with how to carry on family traditions during a time when things are changing around him,” Meservey said. “His daughters are growing up and falling in love, the area they live in is in a state of unrest. Everything seems to be changing and Tevye has these traditions that he is holding on to.”

While Bird never dreamed of playing Tevye, he’s learned to appreciate the character.

“I’ve really fallen in love with the character of Tevye,” Bird said. “There are so many deep messages and it really deals with some serious issues. To play the character, I’ve had to kind of tap into a dark place on stage at times. Playing Tevye has become a very gratifying part for me.”

Bird also is impressed with fellow cast members.

“As a cast, we are hoping that when we have an audience, we’ll be able to create a connection with them,” Bird said. “We want the audience to feel the emotions that the actors are portraying. I think the audience is going to experience a roller coaster of emotion throughout the play.”

Meservey said the musical is a show the entire family can enjoy.

“It gives everyone an opportunity to experience a story that is uplifting and beautiful,” she said. “We also have a fantastic cast. I think the audience will be able to believe the story and connect with the actors on stage.”