Photo by Nick Fiala

Rensselaer Central Drama’s 2019 production of “Fiddler on the Roof” features high school students and middle school students alike, on the same stage where the musical was performed some 40 years ago.

RENSSELAER — This weekend will mark a special anniversary for the Rensselaer Central Drama Department, as they give a revival performance of the classic 1964 musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

The show is tied to the school’s history as it was the first production performed on the Rensselaer Central High School auditorium stage, which was constructed some 40 years ago.

The musical will be performed at 7 p.m. April 11, 12 and 13, with a final performance at 2 p.m. April 14. Tickets are $7 per person.

Taking place in pre-revolutionary Russia in the early 20th century, the musical tells the tale of a Jewish peasant named Tevye (Elijah Gastineau) as he contends with marrying off three of his daughters (Lizzie Parrish, Catherine Sadler and Cicily Porter), while a growing anti-Semitic sentiment threatens the safety and livelihood of his village. The sizable cast will feature high schoolers and middle schoolers alike.

The production will be directed by RCHS English teacher Bernard Sell, with the musical pieces being led by choral director Stephanie Davisson. Debra Spangler, an English teacher for Rensselaer Central Middle School, also assisted the production as a guide for the middle school students who were involved.

“We’re celebrating 40 years in this auditorium, and this was the first show they did back in 1979,” Davisson said during a rehearsal Monday.

Those familiar with the more popular musical numbers from the show may realize the irony of performing it to honor an anniversary. After all, the show itself is a long statement on the value of tradition. And that message is perhaps best summed up by one key line:

“Without traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.”