'Fiddler on the Roof' offers relatable experiences

 (Photo Courtesy of the Ziegfeld Theater, Cory Waite)
Layne Willden, center, plays Tevye. He is surrounded by his daughters, (left to right), Erica Choffel as Hodel, Samantha Killmer as Tzeitel and Hailey Weeks as Chava. (Photo Courtesy of the Ziegfeld Theater, Cory Waite)

A new rendition of “Fiddler on the Roof” is currently bringing Utahns to the Ziegfeld Theater in Ogden, Utah.

Caleb Parry, executive director and owner of the Ziegfeld, said he wanted this rendition of “Fiddler on the Roof” to be one audiences would remember and relate to. The first thing Parry did to achieve was cut the show from its standard three hours to two hours and fifteen minutes, but didn’t cut anything from the story line. The actors found the cutting of the script a challenge, but one they could master.

“It was a quicker pace,” Layne Willden, the actor playing Tevye, said. “All of us in the beginning were concerned that we were rushing our lines and doing everything really fast, but it works really well.”

Willden is no stranger to the role of Tevye considering he has played the character three times. The first time Willden played Tevye was 20 years ago in Salt Lake. Back then, Willden said his children were small. Now his children have grown and have children of their own. Having gone through several different stages in life, Willden says he can relate more to Tevye and the different struggles he faces.

Another veteran of the play is Carolyn Stevens, who plays Teyve’s wife, Golda. This is Stevens’ fifth time playing Golda.

For Stevens, one rewarding aspect of performing at the Ziegfeld is her costar Willden.

“Playing with Layne, we really connect on stage,” Stevens said. “We looked at each other eye to eye and really tried to make moments that have been a lot of fun and rewarding.”

As executive director, Parry said he made sure that this production of “Fiddler on the Roof” paid respect to the Jewish faith and was historically and religiously authentic.

“I was very impressed how he really invested himself in finding out about the play and the culture,” Willden said. “He brought in someone to talk to us about the Jewish culture. He wanted to get across to us what he found and felt.”

According to Willden, audiences still flock to see “Fiddler on the Roof” for one simple reason. We all have families and inherent struggles.

“You can relate to a father who loves his family and is struggling with the changes that are going on with his family and community and the world,and I think that is one of the reasons why it has been so relatable for the last 25 to 50 years,” Willden said.

The Ziegfeld’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” will run Fridays and Saturdays through March 7. In addition, there will be two 2 p.m. matinee performances on Feb. 28 and March 7. “Fiddler on the Roof” will also be performed at the Egyptian Theater in Park City Thursday through Sunday March 13 – 22. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door prior to the performance.