‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at the Rozsa Center

HOUGHTON – The music that many people know and the story that many people love will soon be on stage at the Rozsa Center as the production of “Fiddler on the Roof” gears up for its opening night.

To put it simply, “Fiddler” tells the story of Tevye, who, in order to make his five daughters happy, foregoes tradition and allows them to marry the men they choose, with unforeseen consequences. On top of this, Tevye must also deal with antisemitic threats.

Director Roger Held said “Fiddler on the Roof” is a show that’s been talked about being performed in this area for a while but hadn’t had the opportunity to get it off the ground until now.

“It hadn’t been done in a while and it’s a good vehicle for students,” he said. “Plus it’s kind of a timeless show.”

Given the epic quality of the show, Held said he needed at least 39 actors to make the show possible.

“We have a lot of community people in the show.” Held said. “We have a lot of students who are not theatre majors so it’s a learning curve for them so that takes a lot of repetition. So that part of it is difficult.”

However, Held said there have been some really wonderful things while making this show.

“Some of the students have really stepped up and have demonstrated a great commitment,” he said. “They enjoy what they do. They work really hard and they do anything you ask them to do.”

According to Held, the main theme of the show is tradition and the subsequent facilitating of change.

“There is this vision of life in which people are able to faciliate change even when they’re not necessarily comfortable with it,” Held said. “So I think that’s part of what people will take in without really thinking about it, plus there are some beautiful songs.”

One of the people who’ll be heard belting out some of those “beautiful songs” is Mark Wilcox, who plays Tevye.

Wilcox said “Fiddler” is the first play he ever saw.

“Tevye is a role I’ve been wanting to play for decades,” Wilcox said in an email interview.

In Wilcox’s preparation for the role, he said the challenge was to avoid making Tevye a cartoon character.

“Yes, he’s bigger than life, but his problems are very real and familiar to most of us,” he said. “Raising a family, struggling to make ends meet and dealing with society’s changes.”

According to Wilcox, the Tevye of this production of “Fiddler” will be less “over the top” than other productions, which is how Held has directed the show.

“In many cases, rather than going for the laugh, we’ve underplayed it, allowing the humor to come from the words and situation rather than from a broad slapstick acting style,” Wilcox said. “The key is making Tevye likable, despite his gruff exterior.”

Despite having been rehearing for the show for several weeks, Wilcox said he has still not tired of the show or the songs, which may be attributable to the fact that Wilcox considers “Fiddler” to be the greatest Broadway musical of all time.

“I’ve been singing ‘If I were a Rich Man’ in the shower for the past 30 years,” Wilcox said. “If I?haven’t tired of it yet, I guess I?never will.”

“Fiddler on the Roof”?opens April 18 and runs through April 20. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $18.75. Michigan Technological University students are admitted free.