‘Fiddler’ a classic for America, Aurora
By Jenette Sturges email@example.com March 6, 2013 5:36PM
The cast of Fiddler on the Roof performs a full dress rehearsal at the Paramount Theater in Aurora on Tuesday, Mar. 05, 2013. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
on the Roof”
Where: Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora
When: Through March 24
Tickets: $34.90 - $46.90
To purchase: Call the Paramount Box Office at 630-896-6666 or order online at paramountaurora.com
Updated: April 8, 2013 7:08AM
AURORA — A man — a hard worker, a minority persecuted in his land, but deeply entrenched in his traditional ways and his faith — has five daughters.
Five daughters who want a modern life, a life they define for themselves.
“It’s timeless, universal,” said Jim Corti, producer of the Paramount Theatre’s Broadway series, who has returned to directing for “Fiddler on the Roof,” which opens this weekend at downtown Aurora theater.
“Look at our ancestors, our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents,” Corti said.
“They were immigrants, they came to Ellis Island with no money, no English, and they were able to create businesses, and build families and build futures — and they did this against the greatest odds.”
The push and pull between tradition and modernity, between the desire to retain an old culture and to adapt to a new one, will resonate with Aurora’s diverse audiences, Corti said.
“These people are dealing with being persecuted, with economic hardship, in dire straits, with the harsh elements of the land and the climate, and yet they’re able to prevail because of their love of family, their love of God and their great faith, both in God and in each other,” he said.
Corti says he sees that universality reflected right here in Aurora’s families. And that is what makes “Fiddler” a classic piece of American theater. There’s also the writing, of course, and the music, with classics such as “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “If I Were a Rich Man.”
“Everyone remembers ‘Fiddler,’ ” Corti said. “For a lot of people, it was one of the first shows they were ever in in high school. And we’re honoring all the elements of the story.”
But as is quickly becoming the Paramount’s Broadway series specialty, this classic is going to have a new look.
“It is going to look different. It’s a very fresh, very physical, very beautiful show,” Corti said. “I think we’re playing into the contrast in the story, how hard life is on the shtetl in 1905 and how beautiful the humanity is of these people in overcoming and persevering these hardships, and how it’s done so artfully with this beautiful music and beautiful, rich characters.”
Behind the scenes
One of those beautiful, rich characters has his own hardship to overcome — namely, a cold — that has left leading actor Peter Kevnoian with a severe cough. David Girolmo, cast as Lazar Wolf, is currently filling in during rehearsals; and Matt Jones, who last appeared on the Paramount stage in “The Music Man,” will cover for Girolmo.
“(Kevnoian) is really just gorgeous in the role, and it’s just so sad. He’s devastated,” Corti said, quick to add that the star and his doctors are working hard to get him back on stage as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the rest of the cast and crew seem in good spirits. After Tuesday’s snowstorm, a bearded Snow-Tevye at the Paramount’s stage entrance dons a scarf and characteristic wide-brimmed black fedora.
in the wings
But if Tevye and his daughters can’t entice you, expect next season’s more modern selections to include a show or two you may not have seen.
“Fiddler” is the last production of the 2012-13 season, which included other classic stage fare — “Grease,” “Annie” and “The Music Man” — which earned top reviews across the Chicago theater scene, in spite of how often they are produced on community stage and in high school auditoriums. Director Rachel Rockwell drew rave reviews throughout the season especially for breathing new life and realism into “Annie.”
But next season, which is expected to be announced later this week, will offer a wider selection of shows — some more contemporary, some more grown-up.
“It’s real mix,” said Corti, hinting at next season’s lineup. “We have a new show, a recent Tony Award-winner; a show that’s a throwback to the golden age of Broadway; and then two more contemporary shows, modern classics.”
But, Corti said, with a bit of a sly smirk, theater fans will have to wait it out just a little longer for the big reveal.