An old story is getting a new life courtesy of students at Polytech High School as they prepare to perform “Fiddler on the Roof” this weekend at the Swartz Center.


An old story is getting a new life courtesy of students at Polytech High School as they prepare to perform “Fiddler on the Roof” this weekend at the Swartz Center.

The story, set in Russia in 1905, follows a Jewish family as they struggle with preserving religious traditions while also coming to terms with the individual desires of a new generation: Tevye, a dairyman, wants his eldest daughter to marry the middle-aged butcher he has picked out for her, not the poor  tailor she has fallen in love with.

The story itself may take place at the beginning of the last century but play director Sharon Crossen thinks the message will still resonate with today’s audience.

“Families struggle with each other, though they love each other, and parents have to watch their children grow and often make decisions with which they disagree and that may go against the grain of their backgrounds,” Crossen said. “Parents struggle to accept change today just as the characters in Fiddlerdo.”

Crossen, who has been working with the students on this production since January, believes that the story and the characters are having a similar impact on the young cast.

“I believe the students can see themselves and others in these characters,” Crossen said. “The setting may be old but the feelings and connections are as new as today.”

Polytech senior Rob Murrian, who plays the lead role, loves the play and his character.

“He loves his family and his daughters and he’d do anything for them,” Murrian said. “It’s such a strong role but he’s funny, too.

However, Murrian hopes that people hear some connections to the present as well.

“Like I have a song, If I Were a Rich Man, which is where Christina Aguilera got her song If I Were a Rich Girlfrom so I think people will recognize the song,” Murrian said.

Senior Roxanne Gannon, who plays Tevye’s wife, Golde, thinks the audience will enjoy her character’s strong, funny personality.

“Her interaction with her husband is not the typical loving relationship that you would normally see because they’ve been married for 25 years and she’s basically fed up with him,” Gannon said. “I think the audience will get a kick out of that.”

The 37 members of the cast have been rehearsing weekly since the beginning of January, trying to perfect the many songs and dance numbers of Fiddler, once the longest running Broadway musical in history.

Crossen said that the students have been working hard despite many obstacles.

“Our high school does not have a stage or theatre so we have to build the set in one part of the school, practice in the Adult Ed Center when it is available, then move the set and other properties to the Schwartz Center, having only one opportunity to rehearse there,” Crossen said.

Crossen added that everyone has done more than their fair share to make the show a success with many students stepping forward to take on leadership roles in choreography, set design, and student directing and producing,

“All have added a special touch to make our show a success, though,” Crossen said. “Paul Janiga has done a wonderful job of directing the music for the show, and Rebecca McDaniel has given us professional accompaniment. Parents, too, have been a great help.”