Paramount presents ‘Fiddler on the Roof’
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media February 28, 2013 10:32AM
‘Fiddler on the Roof’
♦ March 6-24
♦ Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora
♦ Tickets, $34.90-$46.90
♦ (630) 896-6666
Updated: February 28, 2013 4:30PM
Jim Corti, the Paramount Theater’s artistic director and the director of the Paramount’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” knows that his view of how the classic musical should be presented may be unlike what most audience members are expecting.
“The design of this show will be different,” Corti said. “‘Fiddler’ is traditionally presented as a fable, with folksy charm. But this show really has more of a sense of hardship than of green trees and rolling hills. I’d say this is a non-traditional approach to a traditional show. You do not see the color immediately. The color comes from the richness of the music; the richness of the characters.”
“Fiddler on the Roof” will be presented from March 6 to 24 at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora.
Set in Tsarist Russia in 1905, “Fiddler on the Roof” takes place in the little village of Anatevka and tells the story of Tevye, a simple and loving milkman, who does everything he can to maintain his family and their religious traditions. Tevye has a loyal, yet independent wife, and five, strong-willed daughters. The family must face an ever-changing political and social landscape and Tevye sees the safety and stability of his old world disappearing.
Based on the book “Tevye and His Daughters” by Sholem Aleichem, “Fiddler on the Roof” features music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and a book by Joseph Stein. The show offers such songs as “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”
The original Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof” opened on Sept. 22, 1964, and ran through July 2, 1972, for a total of 3,242 performances.
“I find my way into a show by what historical sources I find,” Corti said. “In this case, I looked at the life of the people in Eastern Europe in 1905. And 1905 happens to be a violent, murderous period. It is not an accident that the authors chose to set the play in 1905. There was ominous danger on the horizon. The Russian Revolution was going on and there were many attacks against the Jews.
“But in this fictional town they are saying, ‘That is the outside world. We are not a part of that,’ Corti continued. “But they are evicted from their land. They are dealing with heavy circumstances. The show is built on that.”
Corti said that jokes and humor were part of how people of this period got through the strife.
“With Jewish people, finding the sense of humor, finding the whimsy was their way of surviving,” he said. “And believing in the dream of the idealism that they were searching for. These people had resolve and backbone. They had a love of traditions. They felt, ‘This must be God’s will. We must go on.’”
And Corti also thinks that his resolve to doing “Fiddler on the Roof” in this manner is one of the reasons he was hired as the Artistic Director at the Paramount.
“We are taking a risk,” said Corti about presenting “Fiddler” in a different light. “I have never seen this show done this way. I want to do it this way to serve the writing and to get everyone to do the best that they can. I think that’s what I’m here for.”