Victoria McNamara made her way around the stage Wednesday as she adjusted blocking for a song in Blair High School's upcoming production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
This is the first production directed by McNamara, a first-year teacher, but it's not her first experience in theater.
“I've been acting since I was 10,” she said. “I've been involved in theater for over a decade of my life. It's become a passion of mine.”
McNamara, a Wayne State College graduate, has been involved in more than 30 productions throughout high school, college and in community theater in Papillion-La Vista and Ralston.
Getting the opportunity to share her passion with students has been a dream for her.
“It's my craft. I like to work on it and I can't think of a better way to work on and expand my craft than teaching it,” McNamara said. “Trying to teach people how to perfect their's, it's been one of the greatest experiences of my life and I couldn't imagine a better group of kids to work with. These kids have been fantastic. They are so easy to work with and they are so talented.”
“Fiddler on the Roof” is a classic musical, which first opened on Broadway in 1964. It has seen numerous revivals, including a 2015 run on Broadway. It was also the subject of a 1971 film.
Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman with five daughters, must choose between letting his daughters marry who they want or carry on the tradition of arranged marriages using a matchmaker.
McNamara said she chose “Fiddler” for the large cast — there are 51 in the ensemble — but also the message of the show.
“Teaching (the students) that you don't always have to go with what the traditions are. It's OK to break tradition and to live the way you want to live and make a home with the people that you love the most and making that home no matter where you are,” McNamara said. “That's the biggest message I want them to take away. Home is what you make it. It's not a place, it's not a specific location. It's the people you surround yourself with, that's how you feel at home.”
The BHS production stars Collin Moffatt as Tevye, Kristen Swets as Golde and Michaela Diehm, Jaime Orton, Zoe Neef, Lydia Mowels and Evie Storjohann as their daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel, Chava, Shrpintze and Bielke.
Seniors Moffatt and Swets are taking on their first significant roles.
“It's a really big jump. I had one solo in 'Mary Poppins' and now I'm in most of the scenes. I have a bunch of solos,” Moffatt said. “Learning lines has been the hardest by far.”
Swets was unfamiliar with the show before auditioning.
“My mom said it was her favorite musical, but I hadn't heard of it before,” she said. “Over the summer, I did all of my research on 'Fiddler on the Roof.'”
Both Moffatt and Swets said learning from a new director has been an adjustment, but a positive one.
“It's like a fresh start for my senior year, but it's really nice because she is very organized and she knows what she is doing,” Swets said. “She really makes the musical a good experience.”
McNamara said the students aren't the only ones learning.
“It's been a learning experience for me,” she said. “They think they've learned a lot from me, but I've learned a heck of a lot from them, too.”
The BHS production of “Fiddler on the Roof” is 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Lela Neve Auditorium. There is also a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday.
'Fiddler on the Roof' cast
Tevye — Collin Moffatt
Golde — Kristen Swets
Tzeitel — Michaela Diehm
Hodel — Jaime Orton
Chava — Zoe Neef
Shprintze — Lydia Mowels
Bielke — Evie Storjohann
Yente — Sloan Lammers
Motel Kamzoil — Nathan Hiykel
Perchik — Trevor Anderson
Lazar Wolf — Chase Jensen
Rabbi — Brody Fetters
Mendel — Sam Lawton
Nachum — Carter Lau
Grandma Tzeitel — Morgan Thompson
Fruma-Sarah — Grace Fowler
Constable — Canton Lippincott
Fyedka — Cameron Gayer
Shaindel Kamzoil — Maggie Lynch
The Fiddler — Destinea Fuhlrodt
Innkeeper — Hannah Hicks
Russian Leader — Dawson Fischer
Russians — Ryan Ray, Noah Ferguson
Sasha — Sam Lager
Yussel — Mysti Barr
Mr. Kamzoil — Roy Brown
Villagers — Kaela Barr, Mysti Barr, Emily Bennett, Roy Brown, Katelyn Crawford, Sophia Erickson, Marris Faue, Noah Ferguson, Brody Fetters, Grace Fowler, Destinea Fuhlrodt, Gabe Goeken, Victoria Harrington, Hannah Hicks, Jenna Jennings, Kenner Jensen, Sam Lager, Sloan Lammers, Callie Landauer, Carter Lau, Sam Lawton, Canton Lippincott, Dailynn Luttig, Maggie Lynch, Bre Matzen, Olivia Nelson, Polina Nosova, Cayden Otte, Bailey Powell, Ryan Ray, Elena Roeder, Emilie Rothanzi, Evelyn Rothanzi, Lillian Tiedgen, Morgan Thompson, Spencer Trimpe and Jayden Yost.