Whittaker, Kraski Star in Chaffin's Barn's FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, Helmed by Wilkinson and Opening 5/31

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Nine-time First Night Award-winner Martha Wilkinson directs Derek Whittaker, Debbie Kraski and a cast of Nashville's stage favorites in the Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre production of Fiddler on the Roof, opening Thursday, May 31, and running through July 8 at the theater in West Nashville.

Longtime Chaffin's Barn favorite Derek Whittaker stars as the beleaguered dairyman Tevye, with Debbie Kraski as his long-suffering wife Golde in the much-anticipated revival of the classic musical.

Fiddler on the Roof, a musical comedy with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and a book by Joseph Stein, based on the collected stories of Sholom Aleichem, tells the story of Tevye, his wife Golde, their daughters and their suitors, along with the rest of the villagers in Anatevka, the Russian hamlet where they have lived for years after centuries of pogroms.

With Wilkinson, artistic director for Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, is joined on the production team by music director Jaclyn Brown (who does double-duty, playing Fruma Sarah), with choreography by Holly Shepherd.

Filled with a rousing, heartwarming score-which includes "Tradition," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "If I Were A Rich Man" and "Sunrise, Sunset"-Fiddler on the Roof is a timeless classic and one of musical theater's most often-performed works, weaving together music, dance, heart-tugging poignancy and raucous laughter.

Wilkinson's cast includes, in addition to Whittaker, Kraski and Brown, Daron Bruce, Erica Cantrell, Luke Denison, Brian Fisk, Liz Kalota, Amanda Lamb, Zack McCann, Jennifer Richmond, Mia Rose, Will Sevier and Anwen Wilkerson (as The Fiddler).

Martha Wilkinson is a nine-time First Night Award-winning actress for her work in musical theatre. She was selected by the Tennessean and the Nashville Scene as Best Actress for her work as Mrs. Lovett  in Sweeney Todd. She was also selected by Nashville Scene's "Best of..." as part of 2011's best ensemble performance for Tennessee Rep's The 39 Steps. Wilkinson brings more than 25 years of professional experience in performance and directing.

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Wilkinson received her training from Berry College, North Carolina School Of The Arts and The ALLIANCE THEATRE in Atlanta. She has performed locally with Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, Nashville Children's Theatre, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Mockingbird Public Theatre, Tennessee Shakespeare Festival and Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and she has directed locally for People's Branch, Community Sprit Inc. and most recently directed Avenue Q for Street Theatre Company.

Musical director Jaclyn Brown is a Nashville native, who holds a degree in Studio Vocal Performance from the University of Miami. Paper Doll, her fourth release (2011 Silver Nitrate Music), features 15 oF Brown's original songs, several of which were co-written with popular names on Music Row. (This CD is available for purchase during the run of Fiddler on the Roof in the lobby.) Growing up in Nashville with a session pianist for a father, Brown had opportunities to sing with and learn from artists like Brenda Lee, Boots Randolph, Kathy Mattea and Jamie O'Neal. In college Brown worked for country singer Lari White and hit songwriter Chuck Cannon, and later for songwriting legend Darrell Scott.

The show is choreographed by the inimitable Holly Shepherd. An official Nashville native, Shepherd grew up singing and performing, although, oddly enough in Nashville, not country. Shepherd started as a dancer and decided to try her singing chops at a young age. As a musical theatre performer, Shepherd has performed in such shows as Hello, Dolly - Dolly Levi; Chicago - Velma Kelly; Cabaret - Sally Bowles;  A Chorus Line – Sheila; and worked as a singer at Opryland USA, Kings Island and Dollywood. In addition to Chaffin's Barn, Shepherd has choreographed locally for many local school theatre programs as well as Nashville Children's Theatre. She is currently a dance instructor for Belmont University.

"Theatre in the Afternoon" performances are planned for Thursday during the run. House opens at 11 a.m., show at 12 noon. Tickets are $19, bring your own lunch, beverages provided or order Chaffin's Boxed Lunch when you make your reservation for an additional $8.50

Evening performances are scheduled for every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the buffet from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and curtain at 8 p.m.

Every Sunday performance starts with the buffet served from noon to 1:30 p.m., with the show at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices for all evening shows and Sunday matinees (which include dinner and show) are $60 per adult, $58 for seniors (65 and up), $45 for students 13-18; and $35 for children 12 and under. Show-only tickets are $40 for adults, $30 for children 12 and under, $35 for students 13-18.

For reservations, call Chaffin's Barn at (615) 646-9977; for details, go to www.dinnertheatre.com. The Opening Night Gala, complete with champagne and hors d'oeuvres, is set for Thursday, May 31.

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.


 
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