Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.: ES drama department, FFA partner for night of music, food

Thursday, February 7, 2019
Jacob Eastburn sings as the rest of the cast looks on at rehearsal for Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.
Photo by David Bell

You can enjoy Italian food and traditional Jewish music under the same roof this weekend at Eureka Springs High School.

The Eureka Springs High School Drama Department will present “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.” at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, and Saturday, Feb. 9, in the high school auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Eureka Springs students will be admitted free to the performances.

For those looking to make Saturday a special valentine night, the Future Farmers of America (FFA) will also be holding a spaghetti dinner at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. The $5 meal will include spaghetti, salad, garlic bread, dessert and a drink.

Set in the village of Anatevka, “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.” centers on Tevye, a poor dairyman, and his five daughters. With the help of a colorful and tight-knit Jewish community, Tevye tries to marry off his daughters and instill in them a sense of tradition in the face of growing anti-Semitism in Czarist Russia.

Under the direction of drama teacher Rick Mann, the production will feature Austin Moloney as Tevye and Makenzie Meyer, Celia Stodden, Savannah Reeves, Megan Elliot and Kierra Witcher as his five daughters.

Holly Parker, who plays the village matchmaker “Yente,” said the play provides a deeper look into Jewish culture and history.

“That’s something Mr. Mann stresses, too, is keeping it historically accurate,” Moloney said. “Some things in the libretto are kind of vague, but he’s actually researched it.”

“Things are very historical around [Eureka Springs],” Parker said, “so I hope people will appreciate it.”

Meyer said senior Summer Fish choreographed the dances in the production.

“She spent hours studying traditional Jewish dancing before choreographing this year,” Meyer said.

Reeves said working on this production felt like it took longer because it has such a large cast and so many pieces to it.

“We have a lot of rehearsal,” she said. “Every day, you’re going through the same songs, same motions and the dances we have to learn. I know with Austin he has a lot of dialect he has to do with different pronunciations of words.”

Meyer said working on Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. has been different than the other plays the drama department has done because it’s grounded in reality.

“I feel like the others were more mystical and fictional,” she said, “and this one is more real feeling. I have to like cry and hold Austin, even though he’s younger than me, and beg him for permission to marry. Having him play my dad is really weird.”

“There are different tones we have to emphasize –– the anger, the happiness,” Moloney said. “It’s like more normal reactions that you have to act out, so it’s awkward acting them out on stage because you’re not used to forcing them.”

Reeves said she is excited for people to come see the production.

“I’m excited to see if people understand what the play is really about,” she said, “and get the deeper family meaning behind it.”

Kayden Eckman, president of the FFA, said holding the spaghetti dinner the Saturday will be a big fundraiser for the club. The funds raised will go toward uniforms, memberships fees and materials for the agriculture program.

“This is the second year we’ve had FFA at Eureka Springs,” he said, “so fundraising is always big for any starting program. Since we’re still building up our chapter, we’re saving up for the state competition.”

Jurny Hammond, FFA treasurer, said the fundraiser will also help cover travel expenses for the competition like hotel stays and meals.

“Our agribusiness team is looking really competitive this year,” he said. “Last year, we were one place away from going to state, and that was our first year. We had less than a month to prepare. We’ve been studying a lot this year. We’re prepared.”

Hammond said FFA students will be competing at regionals on Thursday, March 14, in Russellville to determine if they move on to state.

Eckman said Arvest Bank, Hart’s Family Center and Sun Fest Market are sponsoring the dinner. The community support has been a big help for the club, he said.

“[FFA vice president] Chris Segura and I last weekend were going around asking for FFA sponsorships for the rodeo,” he said.

“We have a lot of local sponsors helping pay for our entry fees to the rodeo,” Segura said.

After the spaghetti dinner this weekend, Eckman said the FFA’s next big event will be a rodeo held on Saturday, March 9, at the Carroll County Fairgrounds in Berryville. He said they will also hold a plant sale in April featuring plants from the high school’s new state-of-the-art greenhouse.

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