Immigrant aches |

Immigrant aches

High school musical tells universal back-story of many immigrants

Grace Stockdale, left, and Cody Poirot, right, feign sleep on stage during a rehearsal for Steamboat Springs High School's upcoming production of Fiddler on the Roof. The rehearsal on Tuesday, April 3, 2007 was one of many preparations by the students for their play.
Brian Ray

— The 30 students in Steamboat Springs High School’s performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” have recreated the sentiments of a small Russian town in 1909.

“They have bonded so well that it is as if they have become their own little town of Anatevka,” said Rusty De Lucia, director of the musical. “The play is about how traditions can hold families, groups and towns together – and break them apart.”

De Lucia chose this musical purely for casting purposes because the singing parts lent themselves to a strong female cast.

“I knew we had some very, very strong females, and this is an opportunity for them to shine on stage,” she said. “I even changed the Rabbi’s son to the Rabbi’s daughter to give one more young woman a chance to sing.”

De Lucia describes the music in the production as uplifting, earthly and very real.

“When a scene gets down and dirty, the music is right there with it,” she said. “And the music is fun in a lot of spots as well.”

One of the challenges for dance choreographer Heidi Meshurel-Jolly is engaging the male students in the production.

“She is doing an incredible job of getting the boys to dance,” De Lucia said. “Getting high school and middle school boys to dance is incredible.”

There is no difficulty in applying the theme of this musical to the current state of affairs.

“It’s a timely and very true story about what happens when a group of people are alienated,” De Lucia said. “Like Muslims today – if they are wearing a head scarf, they are stared at. And how many Jews and blacks still feel unwanted? It’s a universal theme that they survive and move on to a better life.”

The musical also puts into perspective the lives of early immigrants who came to the United States.

“When we look back in history class, they are all portrayed as black and white huddled faces of poor immigrants. They are like newspaper pictures – just figures and statistics,” De Lucia said. “This play shows that they were real people who had loves, lives and aches, and it tells the stories of their lives before they got on the boat.”

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