Fiddlin’ around for the kidsA timeless tale crosses paths with a good cause next week in Oulu. The end result will be singing, dancing, laughter, tears and the strains of a violin played high overhead.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A timeless tale crosses paths with a good cause next week in Oulu. The end result will be singing, dancing, laughter, tears and the strains of a violin played high overhead.
Oulu Community Theater presents “Fiddler on the Roof” April 12-22 at the Workshop, 74370 County Highway B.
“They’re an amazingly talented bunch of people,” said Kitty Wahlberg, the show’s pianist. On stage and behind the scenes, entire families volunteer their time and skill to make the troupe’s biennial plays a success.
“They’re such good people and they give from the heart,” said director Eunice Laakso.
Every other year, the Workshop comes alive with drama thanks to volunteers and community support.
“Everything we do ourselves and we do it on zero budget,” Laakso said. Then, they give their proceeds away. “You can’t get a whole lot more nonprofit than us.”
To date, the Oulu Community Theater has donated more than $32,000 to youth activities in the area. They’ve purchased skates, books and even a furnace. They’ve funded 4-H activities, youth clubs, school activities, libraries, baseball facilities and ice skating facilities.
This year’s musical is the group’s first repeat. They also performed it in 1999.
“We always said if we ever redid one, it would be this one,” Laakso said. “It speaks so to family, the tradition of our lives. Everyone who watches it feels a part of their roots.”
The story is almost timeless, said Greg Nollet, who plays the role of Tevye.
“You can take it and put it into any other era,” he said, and it would still resonate. As his character says, “Without traditions our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on a roof.”
For Laakso and music director Margie Falter, it is an especially nostalgic time. Laakso’s granddaughter, Brook Weiss, and Falter’s daughter Sadie will graduate from high school this spring.
“When we started in 1995, they were both babies on the hip,” Laakso said. This year, the teens were cast as two of Tevye’s daughters — 17-year-old Weiss plays the role of Tzeitel and Sadie Falter, 18, is Hodel. The girls said working on the community plays has taught them dedication and time management skills. It’s also left them with a sense of family.
“We’ve been together forever,” said Weiss’ younger sister, Hailea, who plays the role of Chava.
Each play offers volunteers a chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones, said Jo Johnson, who plays one of the villagers. She appreciated, in particular, all the youth – some as young as 6 — who take part in the productions.
“The spirit in these kids, they’re up all the time,” Johnson said.
The players agreed that Laakso and Falter were the backbone of the organization.
“They do an amazing job, the mountains they have to climb,” Nollet said.
“It wouldn’t be the same without them,” Hailea said. Music rehearsals began in October and gradually, practice grew from once a week to five or six nights a week.
Local businesses also lend a hand. The Fig Leaf in Iron River keeps an eye out for possible costumes, said Fred Strand, who reprises his role of Lazar Wolf, while Tom’s Hardware and Iron River Hardware provide donations.
Next week, the troupe will unveil their newest production. They hope to provide quality entertainment on a local scale and a helping hand to area youth.
“It’s not only a good performance, most of the proceeds go back to the community,” Weiss said.
Evening performances begin at 7 p.m. April 12 and 18 and 6 p.m. April 15 and 22. A dinner theater takes place at 6:30 p.m. April 13, 14, 17, 20 and 21. There will also be matinee performances at 1:30 p.m. April 15 and 22. Tickets for evening and matinee shows are $8 for adults and $5 for students age 12 and younger. Dinner theater tickets are $25 each. To reserve a ticket, call Liz at (715) 372-5550 or Margie at (715) 372-4102; reservations are recommended.