For those who love a family-friendly musical with toe-tapping tunes and a plot about love, tradition and taking a step into the unknown, “Fiddler on the Roof Jr.,” is the show to see.

The Killeen Independent School District elementary/middle school summer musical will be performed at the Killeen High School auditorium Thursday and Friday.

Live Oak Middle School student Philip Smith, 13, was overwhelmed at being cast as the iconic lead character Tevye, especially in his first stage production.

“I’m an adventurous person who likes to try new things, so I auditioned since I love singing and acting, and I like Tevye’s dignity and humor,” Philip said.

Set in a small 1905 Jewish village in Russia, “Fiddler on the Roof Jr.” is about Tevye, a poor dairyman, who tries to preserve his tight-knit family traditions in the face of changing social times. The show’s director, Elizabeth McWithey, felt the students could handle the serious, adult tone because it has relevance today.

“Initially, the students were hesitant but soon they picked up on the main themes of breaking

with tradition and being free to love whomever you want to love,” said McWithey, theater arts instructor at Union Grove Middle School. This is her first musical production as director after serving as assistant director for last summer’s musical.

As more than 100 Killeen ISD students from first grade to eighth grade spent hours rehearsing, a crew of dedicated theater arts instructors made the sets, created period costumes from scratch, and designed sound and lights to bring the show together in only three weeks.

Michelle Clark, Live Oak Ridge theater arts instructor for six years, served as assistant director giving notes, directing scenes and learning how to adapt her teaching strategies for a large and diverse age group. “It’s been little bit of a challenge working with younger and older students, but it’s really fun watching them embrace it and make the show their own,” Clark said.

One of the characters, daughter Chava, is played by Gracie Nunn, 11, also starring in her first show.

She asked her mom’s permission to be in the musical because the songs are among her favorites.

“It’s just a lot fun being with so many kids singing and dancing,” Gracie said.

Hoping the audience is impacted in some way by the story and its history, McWithey also hopes the students gain more confidence from their theater experience.

“They have come so far in three weeks, collaborating and working on a difficult show, and they should be really proud of themselves,” she said.

For more information, call the Killeen ISD Fine Arts Office at 254-336-6300.

If You Go

  • WHAT: Fiddler on the Roof Jr.
  • WHEN: 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday
  • WHERE: Killeen High School auditorium, 500 N. 38th St., Killeen
  • Tickets: Available at the door for $3 for adults; $1 for children ages 3-17, and $10 for a four-show pass. Children under 3 are free.

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