Summer Youth Musical hits the roof with 'Fiddler'

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on
Tevae Shoels and Soccora Carrillo star in "Fiddler on the Roof."
Photo by Chip Chandler

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

A cast of 60 Amarillo students will bring to life one of the most classic musicals in the theatrical canon.

Amarillo College Summer Youth Musical will stage Fiddler on the Roof at 7:30 p.m. July 7 and 8 and 2:30 p.m. July 9 in the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Buchanan St.

The musical (music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein) follows a poor Jewish milkman named Tevye as he tries to hang on to his religious and cultural traditions even as he watches his daughters grow up and, in marrying for love, each move a little further away from that core. The family also must cope with an edict from the Russian Tsar that evicts them from their village.

Tevye's (Tevae Shoels) family sings the Sabbath prayer in a scene from the Amarillo College Summer Youth Musical production of "Fiddler on the Roof." Cast members are, from left, Shoels, Anna Bahn as Tzeitle, Harrison Stringer as Motel, Socorra Carrillo as Golde, Charlie Turner as Perchik, Rebecca Hartman as Hodel, Eleisha Miller as Chava, Hanna Felker as Shprintz and Sydney Nickson as Beilke.
Photo by Chip Chandler

Fiddler may not be exactly a natural fit for teenagers on the High Plains, considering the cultural differences between the largely Christian population here versus the Russian Jews depicted in the musical. But director Linda Hughes said the time was right to revive the musical, which was first produced as a Summer Youth Musical in 2007.

"It's a beautiful vehicle for now with the refugee situation, with the way our society is turning," Hughes said. "This is a great lesson on perseverence and dedication and love.

"It's one of my favorites and one of the kids' favorites because of the story it tells," she continued. "And it's a also a perfect show for the talent we have right now."

Leading the cast is recent Tascosa High School graduate Tevae Shoels as Tevye, with incoming Tascosa senior Socorra Carrillo as his wife, Golde.

"No, not in a million years" did the African-American Shoels, 18, ever think he would play the Jewish milkman, "but I definitely consider it the role of a lifetime," Shoels said.

"I like to consider him pretty much your everyday guy," said Shoels, who has Jewish heritage on his maternal side. "He's caught between wanting to stay where he is in his traditions, but he's open to new things, like his daughters marrying for love. He's struggling."

Carrillo said she and other cast members have conducted their own research into Jewish customs, with several of them taking part in a Sabbath dinner together.

"We're all doing all kinds of outside work other than just learning our lines so we can understand what we're talking about and why we're talking about it," said Carrillo, 17.

This Fiddler marks 15 years of productions staged by a team led by Linda Hughes under the various auspices of Civic Amarillo, Amarillo Opera and, now, AC. 

It will feature a student orchestra of 21 young musicians led by orchestral director Camille Day Nies, with choral director Andrew Barratt Lewis of West Texas A&M University, and several students are volunteering as stage hands, as well.

"Sometimes with economic situations that occur, you're not always clear on the future of any arts organization," Hughes said. "I was determined to have the anniversary."

Until several months ago, the program was still under the umbrella of Amarillo Opera, but after what Hughes termed "friendly negotiations," it moved to AC.

"I didn't want to see (the program) die," Hughes said. "I wanted it to have life and continue as the educational opportunity it is for kids of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle."

Tickets are $20, plus fees. Call 806-378-3096.

 

 

Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at Chip.Chandler@actx.edu, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and on Facebook.

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