Set in the small Jewish town of Anatevka in Czarist Russia in 1905, the story centers on Tevye and his attempts to maintain family and religious traditions while the outside world changes rapidly — symbolized by Tevye's eldest three daughters and their choice of husbands.
Presented by the FPU music and theater programs, the production is part of the 2006-2007 Pacific Artist Series. Roy Klassen and Deborah Sauer-Ferrand, music faculty, star as Tevye and Golde, respectively. Julia Reimer, drama faculty, is the director. The cast consists of students, faculty, staff and alumni.
The show begins with a lone fiddler standing on a roof playing a tune, as Tevye equates life in Anatevka with being a "fiddler on a roof": people trying to scratch out a simple, pleasant tune without breaking their necks. "How do we keep our balance?" he asks. "That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!"
Klassen, D.M.A., conducts the Fresno Pacific University Concert Choir, the Pacific Chamber Singers and the San Joaquin Chorale. He also teaches conducting and voice at the university. Klassen is well known as a conductor, clinician and soloist, beginning his career in Southern California public schools before coming to Fresno in 1977. He has studied with Robert Shaw, Howard Swan and Paul Salamunovich and earned a doctor of music arts degree from Arizona State University. Klassen has soloed with the Fresno, Tulare, Burbank and San Fernando Valley symphonies and sung with the New York City Opera Chorus. He also serves as choir director at College Community Congregational Church, Fresno.
Sauer-Ferrand is vocal music coordinator at FPU, teaching voice, music fundamentals, American popular music, lyric diction and directing the opera workshop. Sauer-Ferrand has studied and performed with opera companies and orchestras in the United States and Europe; she also loves to sing jazz, Broadway, pop and contemporary Christian music. She has a master's degree in voice from California State University, Fresno, and has taught music there and at Fresno City College. Sauer-Ferrand has taught drama, coached and directed numerous operas and musicals and maintains a private music studio. Before coming to FPU in 1992, she spent six years with Sierra Chamber Opera, giving over 1,000 performances in schools around the Central Valley.
The music for "Fiddler" is by Jerry Bock, with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and libretto by Joseph Stein. The show, which opened on Broadway in 1964 and was released as a film in 1971, is based on Tevye and his Daughters or Tevye the Milkman by Sholom Aleichem.