L’Chaim! Fiddler on the Roof, the school musical

4th April 2019
BY Harry Robinson and Arthur Lyhne-Gold, pupils and performers

On the 28th, 29th and 30th of March, Winchester College and St Swithun’s School showed the public the fruits of six months’ labour with a series of excellent performances of Fiddler on the Roof at the city’s Theatre Royal.

Fiddler tells the story of Tevye, a Jewish milkman living in the Russian Pale of Settlement who struggles to reconcile his faith with his daughter’s marital choices, and the conflicts between the modern world and the traditions by which they live, against the backdrop of the Russian Pogroms of the early 20th century.

The production was one of enormous scale – performed (for the first time) in the city’s public theatre. The previous inter-school production, Oliver!, was led principally by Winchester College and so this year, St Swithun’s School took the reins in leading the direction and management of the production.

At first, I wondered what I had gotten myself into - the schedule of Sunday rehearsals looked terrifying, but after the first few were out of the way and we found our footing, I really looked forward to Sunday afternoons. There could not have been a nicer bunch of people with which to spend the time, nor anything that I would rather have been doing. 

The performances themselves, whilst stressful backstage, were immensely enjoyable, and being in the Theatre Royal brought a dimension of professionalism which I had hitherto not experienced in a school production. The songs, a week after the final performance, are still going around in my head, and anyone unlucky enough to be on my corridor has been treated to a number of renditions of ‘To Life’, belted out at all times!

With a professional orchestra, a wonderful set, beards (made of real hair!) along with fantastic costumes and intensely rehearsed dancing, acting and singing, it is something that the director, all the cast and I am certainly proud of!

I am immensely grateful to all involved, and when I look back on my time at Winchester, the Fiddler will certainly stand out as a highlight.

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