The cast and crew are busily preparing for the opening of Fiddler on the Roof at the Chemainus Theatre Festival on June 17.

Fiddler coming to Chemainus

Production begins June 17

Art imitates life several ways in the stage world of Chemainus Theatre actress Rachel Aberle.


She’s depicts Tzeitel, eldest daughter of milkman Tevye, in the summer production of Fiddler On The Roof.


Reality hits home as Aberle’s father, Stephen, portrays Tevye in director/choreographer Peter Jorgensen’s take on the timeless Broadway gem. Also, both members of the Aberle family are Jewish, just like Tevye and his villagers persecuted by a brutal Russian government.


Aberle, 25, sees social symbolism in the touching musical based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem.


“It’s about the struggles we face when the things we think are absolute are taken away from us,” she said of Fiddler’s messages.


“But this story’s totally applicable to current struggles we see in Egypt and Libya.


“The character Perchik (Danny Balkwill) is a young, educated revolutionary trying to affect change through civil disobedience and org protests.


“We still see that these days in social media and on the internet, but back then it was young men asking people to join the cause.”


That depth made Fiddler Aberle’s favourite musical.


“I’ve never seen it done the way we are,” she said of her director’s 17-member cast.


The graduate of Vancouver’s Studio 58 acting school avoided spoiling the show’s surprises.


“My biggest challenge right off the bat was letting go of preconceived notions of my character, as Peter wanted such a different take on Tzeitel,” she said of the domineering gal she always perceived as sweet.


Jorgensen’s Fiddler hears most actors playing instruments while puppeteering appears in some scenes, cellist Aberle said.


“I’m using a puppet but I can’t give too much away. It’s a great surprise.”


She’s not worried about a big show on a smaller stage.


“The more the merrier, I guess. It doesn’t feel crowded.”


In fact, Fiddler brings her closer to her father.


“This is our first full production together. I grew up watching my dad act, and we went to the same theatre school, Studio 58.


“I’m seeing a totally different side of him in a working relationship.”


Many Jewish folks find common ground in the bittersweet tale of village matchmaking and merriment against looming persecution from Moscow.


“Jewish people I know have known this play all their lives, and its really beloved by all the Jews I know,” she said, noting fellow actor, Andrew Cohen, cast as Mendel — is Jewish, too.


“This show speaks to everyone.


“Jewish history has lots of sadness and struggle, but Jewish culture is infused with joy, and this play does a beautiful job showing how people maintain joy in times of adversity. I hope viewers come away with more questions than answers.”


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