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ART BEAT: Fifth Row Center brings "Fiddler on the Roof" to Buford stage

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From left to right, Taylor Sage Priday, Gillian Lynn Rivera, Carl Barrington, Anaka Christina Durrence, Cecelia Harrington, and Meg Ausband are Teyve's family in "Fiddler on the Roof," which will be presented at the Buford Community Center. (Special Photo)

One of the most popular shows in American musical theater history will charm Gwinnett area audiences May 1 through 4 and 8 through 11 as Fifth Row Center Theatre presents “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Buford Community Center.

Performances will be held at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays. The Buford Community Center is at 2200 Buford Highway in Buford. Tickets range from $8 to $25 and can be reserved by calling 770-945-6762 or online at www.bufordcommunitycenter.com.

Bringing this work to the stage is director Myrna Feldman, a task she has had the pleasure of taking on before.

“This is the third time I’m directing ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’” Feldman said. “The show remains as fresh and vital as it was the first time I directed it twenty years ago.”

The Tony Award-winning play has enjoyed great success since it debuted on Broadway in 1964. With music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein, the musical is based on a story titled “Tevye and his Daughters” (or Tevye the Dairyman) and other tales by Sholem Aleichem. The story is set in Tsarist Russia in 1905, a time and place of upheaval, especially for those of the Jewish faith.

Tevye is father to five daughters. He struggles to maintain his family and his Jewish traditions while outside influences encroach on their lives, such as the Tsar’s edict to evict Jews from their village. The musical contains such popular songs as “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I were a Rich Man,” “Tradition” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”

“It is both a comedy and a drama, encompassing the themes of family, love and politics,” Feldman said. “I feel a personal connection, as my grandparents also immigrated from Eastern Europe under similar circumstances. Throughout my life, I have felt the tug between tradition and change just as Tevye and his daughters do.”

Portraying Tevye is Carl Barrington, who was nominated for a Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre Award for his performance in this role at Lionheart Theatre in 2012. His desire to bring the musical to a larger venue, with Feldman directing, resulted in Fifth Row Center taking on the project.

“Teyve is every man, responding to change in his life, at a faster pace than he is ready to accept,” Barrington said. “’Fiddler’ will always be relevant because every generation deals with this same issue. This is the most physically demanding role I have ever played. With all the movement and dancing, it has become my daily workout.”

Fifth Row Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 2007 by Donna Chalmers, who was also the former founder and artistic director of Lawrenceville Community Theatre. Although the group is based in Buford, it serves Hall, Jackson and Barrow counties and draws audiences from Gainesville, Flowery Branch, Lawrenceville and Braselton.

For more information about Fifth Row Center and “Fiddler on the Roof,” visit fifthrowcenter.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.