Senior Randy Perham is Tevye in the Payson High School production of "Fiddler on the Roof," which runs Thursday through Saturday in the PHS Auditorium.
The musical, a joint effort by the school's drama and music departments led by teachers John Siler and Larry Potvin, is the story of a man's struggle to overcome tradition in an era of change. It is set in a small Jewish town in Russia right before the Bolshevik Revolution.
The title of the musical, which enjoyed a long run on Broadway with Zero Mostel in the lead role and was also made into a successful movie starring Topol, is symbolic, Perham said.
"The fiddler is a symbol of what we, as a people, are trying to make of our lives at a time when things are changing," he said. "It's hard to make a beautiful song when, at the same time, you are trying to balance on the roof."
Tevye and his wife, Golde, have five daughters, three of whom get married during the course of the play. As Tevye struggles with change, each of the three weddings represents a break with tradition in a different way.
"The foundation of Tevye's life is to maintain traditional values, yet he must struggle to show compassion for his daughters' feelings at the same time," Perham said.
Golde is played by junior Heather Williams, while the three daughters who get married, Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava, are played by sophomore Rebecca Ross, freshman Becca Stuart and senior Rose Galhotra respectively.
Students playing other major parts include Stephanie Hilliard, Anita Meggitt, Kari Flake, Andrew Steedman, Rachel Converti, Mick Stern, Nick Sanders, Lauri Leafty, Elizabeth Goodale, Cassandra Miles, Ashley Eckstein, Lisa Jackson, Hillary Scott, Cassie Carter, James Neverman, Ryan Fanizza, Laura Perham, Adrianna Curtis, Sarah Miles, Breeana Gibson, Tina Jackson and Lindsay Lashbrook.
Highlights of the production, Perham said, include a raucous bar scene where a group of Russians attempt to befriend the Jews, and a wedding that almost turns into a brawl when a spurned suitor shows up. The most recognizable and popular songs in the musical, are "If I Were a Rich Man," "The Matchmaker," and "Tradition."
The play is based on a collection of stories by Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem and the book by Joseph Stein. Sheldon Harnick wrote the lyrics and Jerry Bock the music.
"It was the longest-running musical based on a book in the history of the world until "Cats" came along," production coordinator Kathy Siler said.
Performances Thursday and Saturday are at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. Friday matinee. Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for students, and are available at Oasis Christian Books and the Payson Public Library.