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Fiddler on the Roof comes to Iowa today

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | DECEMBER 01, 2010 7:20 AM

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Eight shows a week for nine months straight is nothing compared with actor John Preece's 3,100 performances in Fiddler on the Roof.

Preece's performance in Cedar Rapids will be his ninth national tour with Fiddler on the Roof; he will play the main character, Tevye, whom he has portrayed more than 1,500 times.

"Tevye is probably one of the best written roles in musical theater," he said. "It's very comedic and a great piece of theater to be involved with."

Fiddler on the Roof will open at 7:30 p.m. today in the U.S. Cellular Center, 370 First Ave. E., Cedar Rapids. Admission is $50 to $60 for the general public and senior citizens, $35 to $45 for students and youth.

The show is part of Hancher Auditorium's season and is sponsored by Paramount Theatre.

The show follows the life of Tevye and his conflicts with both the outside world and his family. As his three daughters grow up and marry, the humble milkman struggles with balancing their happiness and tradition. The play is set in Anatevka, a small village in Tsarist Russia.

Along with Tevye's story, the audience also learns the history of Russia at that time, so spectators see the conflicts going on between the family and the country.

"As a young cast, which is time-appropriate, it's a very good company," Preece said. "We've been getting a great response and people are really going to enjoy it."

Along with the talented cast, the musical's dance numbers have also been something previous audiences have come to love and enjoy about Fiddler on the Roof.

"After one of our dance numbers, we had to wait a long time before the applause finally died down," Preece said.

Alongside Preece, Nancy Evans Saretsky plays Golde, the wife of Tevye. This is her first time performing in Fiddler.

Originally an opera singer, Saretsky first realized she loved acting after singing Broadway tunes and taking a few acting classes.

Golde and Tevye have been married for 25 years. Her job is to prepare her daughters to become wives, mind the household chores, and take care of the dairy farm they live on.

"Being a Jewish mother myself, I feel like I can really relate to the wonderful part of Golde," Saretsky said. "She is very stoic yet supportive of Tevye, and for 1905, it's really a true partnership."

Fiddler on the Roof is being called an international tour because not only is the cast performing in large and small cities all over the United States, the production will also head to Canada.

Many of the cast members auditioned in different cities for the part, but they all rehearsed in New York for three weeks followed by a tech week in Chattanooga, Tenn.

By the time the cast members perform in Cedar Rapids, they will have 60 or so performances under their belts, Preece said.

"The music is fantastic, and we have fabulous dancers," Saretsky said. "John Preece is phenomenal, and I think we have really become the people of Anatevka."


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