BWW Blog: Jesse Swimm of Goodspeed's FIDDLER ON THE ROOF - It's Opening Night
It's opening night...
50 years ago on September 22, 1964 the world was introduced to "Fiddler on the Roof"...and the rest, as the say is history. The show itself, originally titled "Tevye", was based on the stories of "Tevye and his Daughters" written by well-known Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem. The musical title itself comes from a painting by world-renowned artist Marc Chagall's, "The Fiddler" and the fiddler himself is a metaphor for survival, through tradition and joyfulness, in a life of uncertainty and imbalance"(from Wikipedia). As Tevye says in the opening of the show: "A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy no?...every one of us is a fiddler, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy...why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home...And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word...TRADITION!" It is with these words that we are transported into another time full of rich history and life. Tonight those words, which have been spoken over and over in countless theatres around the world, were uttered to an audience of about 400 who got to witness as Goodspeed Opera House opened the 50th Anniversary production of "Fiddler on the Roof"
Tonight was an electrical night for all of us. Like I had mentioned in my last post we have been doing the show for a couple weeks now in what Goodspeed had dubbed as their "previews" but tonight was our chance to really shine for the critics. All of the hard work we have done over the past 7 weeks came to a head as we joined together on stage tonight to tell the story of Tevye, Golde and their family. The day itself started off with a matinee so it was nice to get back to the show again after two days off from everything. For myself it was a nice warm-up back into what I love doing 8 times a week. Not to say I didn't give 100% for the matinee but there is always a bit more concentration added to that first show back. Especially with a show like Fiddler you can't just go into autopilot. You really have to commit to the story and make sure you are giving it it's full worth otherwise you are doing a huge disservice to not only the authors but the memory of the Jewish people who suffered such atrocities at that time. However once I found my groove for the show I knew I was ready and that the evening show was going to amazing...all I had to do was make sure I didn't drop a bottle tonight (good news, I didn't nor did Matt, Will, or Charles).
As with most opening nights the cast looks forward to an opening party and we were treated to one. We had one when we had our first public appearance and it was a night full of patrons, dancing, and food. This however was a celebration just for us. Just cast and crew coming together to acknowledge all of the hard work we have done. Again we met at The Gelston House, as it's the most convenient place for us after a show. However just having it be the company there was certain bit of ease that washed over us all. We laughed about moments on and off stage and we all congratulated each other on a job well done. It was at this moment that Michael Price got up to speak to us. Fiddler has been a show that Goodspeed has always wanted to do but Michael was reticent about producing. This is a very personal show to him and making sure it was done correctly was something he would not let be done without a spectacular team. Thankfully he found that team in Rob Ruggiero and Parker Esse. I have to say I am incredibly proud of this show. I know it's easy to say "They don't write shows like this anymore" But the truth is they don't and when you have an amazing cast such as mine taking you through the journey it makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
As the night went on I grew more and more thankful that this would be my home for the next couple months. It is truly a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by such talented, committed performers as I am now. Their constant devotion to this show is immense and it fills me with pride stepping out on that stage every night. Even those in my cast who have done the show before don't let it affect what they are doing in this version. There are new moments found, new experiences to be had and it is with this that we are giving a truly wonderful version of this show that will surely touch the lives of those who come to see us. As the party drew to a close we all felt a sense of great accomplishment. We had succeeded in what we set out to do and we will continue to do that through September 12th when we close. However the night was still young and even though The Gelston House was closing we had a fever in our system and the only cure for that was more cornhole. So we as a group made our way to the Goodspeed Village for another rousing night of midnight cornhole. I know it sounds crazy but it really is a lot of fun...you should try it sometime. As the night wore on one by one we played till it was time for me to bid adieu to my compatriots, as I have a 4-legged friend I needed to attend to. I finished my final game, said goodnight, and made my way home. And as I sit here typing this blog before I head to sleep I want to say thank you to my Anatevkan family here at Goodspeed. You have become such a special part of my life and I am so proud to share that stage on and off with you all. I learn so much from each of you every single day and in turn I not only become a better performer but also a better person. Thank you and goodnight... till next time.