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February 7, 2013

City actors perform in 'Fiddler on the Roof'

It has memorable songs such as “If I We’re a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” all wrapped around a timeless story about family, love, tradition and faith.

Now, the Tony award-winning musical that once held the record for the longest-running Broadway musical is coming to the Rogers Center for the Performing Arts at Merrimack College.

The Acting Out! Theater Company Inc. will present four performances of “Fiddler on the Roof” featuring performers from throughout the region Feb. 15 at 7 p.m., Feb. 16 at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 17 at 3 p.m. The show includes Haverhill residents Brandy Matthews, Brinn Kingsley, James Carrington, Jessica Begin, Lauren Elwell, Maggie Stokes, Nick Elwell, Peg DiGrazia and Sandra Vitti. Others in the show hail from Stoneham, Swampscott, Lynn and Middleton, as well as Freemont and Exeter, N.H.

Directed by Linda Schoonmaker, this popular musical is based on Sholem Aleichem’s short stories about a poor milkman named Tevye and his daughters, and is set in a poor Jewish village in Czarist Russia in the early years of the 20th century. The themes of tradition, family, love and marriage, regret and optimism are presented by honest, funny characters along with memorable songs like “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were A Rich Man” and “Matchmaker.”

”It is a piece of historical fiction and many of our cast/crew members have their own stories to tell that mirror those in this rich musical theater piece,” Schoonmaker said.

The cast includes many families and friends, and that alone is a great reason to see the show, she said.

Schoonmaker of North Andover was inspired to bring the performance to the Merrimack Valley by the true-life stories of a local family like Tevye’s. Sandra Poole, technical advisor for the show, is the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants from what is present-day Ukraine. Poole would recount tales about her family’s life in the little village of Shepetovka and the journey to the United States.

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