Theater group to repeat play for 21st production


The set of September Song resembles a family reunion -- something that happens only once a year with basically the same group of people, but with a few new additions.

The regulars greet each other with hugs and kisses, and the new members are introduced all around. Then it's time to get down to business.

For its 21st production, September Song, a community theater group, will repeat its 1984 show, "Fiddler on the Roof," at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Sept. 23 and 24, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Westminster High School.

September Song was formed as a charitable organization to support the developmentally disabled. Its proceeds benefit Change Inc., Richcroft Inc. and the Carroll County Therapeutic Recreation Council.

This year's performance features many actors who were in the first "Fiddler on the Roof," including Barclay Brown repeating his lead role as Tevye, the dairyman struggling with making a living and the loss of traditions.

Based on Sholom Aleichem's Yiddish stories, the musical was written in 1964 by Joseph Stein, with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. The play includes such well-known songs as "If I Were a Rich Man," "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Matchmaker."

The story revolves around Tevye, his wife Golde and five daughters, a poor Jewish family living in Anatevka, Russia, in 1905. As Tevye goes about his daily business, he is watching the old Jewish traditions that mean so much to him crumble.

"Tevye must face the decisions of three of his five daughters to choose a mate without the matchmaker, like he and his wife were matched," Mr. Brown said. "The three eldest daughters go against the tradition. One daughter has even decided to marry a man, she says, 'because I love him.' "

Another daughter rebels against the matchmaker's choice of a rich man for her and decides to marry a poor tailor.

"I love the show because it's so steeped in Jewish tradition," said Mr. Brown, an ordained United Methodist minister who is a pastoral psychotherapist. "You're born a Jew -- you choose to be a Christian, but you're born a Jew. The sense of family tradition in an oppressed Jewish community comes through the whole show."

The song "Traditions" opens the play on the theme, when Tevye says, "Because of our traditions everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do."

But as faithful as Tevye is, even he questions his circumstances to God, lamenting, "It's no shame to be poor, but it's no honor either."

Mr. Brown's leading lady, Ruth Snow as Golde, calls the play "a slice of who these people really were." She brings her own portrayal of Golde to the stage, having played the role previously for the Oregon Ridge Dinner Theater.

"I see Golde as a very honest lady, but I've seen her portrayed as spiteful, and I don't like that," Ms. Snow said. "I portray her as a lady who has learned to survive and has taught her daughters how to survive. I think she's a very tender lady, but hard circumstances have made her realistic."

A scene between Tevye and Golde has him singing "Do you love me?" to her. After so many years of marriage, the two realize that, despite being "matched," they really do love each other.

September Song co-founders Arnie Hayes and Robert Kersey return as producer and orchestra conductor, respectively. Hal Fox is director.

Tickets are $10 for reserved seats and $7 for general admission, available at Coffey Music, Winchester Exchange, 15 E. Main St., Westminster. Tickets also will be sold at the door.

Information: 848-1824 or 876-1760.

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