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Elmhurst Children's Theatre actors get history lesson through 'Fiddler on the Roof'

The Elmhurst Children's Theatre will perform "Fiddler on the Roof" from April 27 to 29 at Sandburg Middle School, 345 E. St. Charles Road, Elmhurst.
The Elmhurst Children's Theatre will perform "Fiddler on the Roof" from April 27 to 29 at Sandburg Middle School, 345 E. St. Charles Road, Elmhurst.

ELMHURST – About 47 children from the Elmhurst Children's Theatre will present "Fiddler on the Roof" in four performances from April 27 to 29 at Sandburg Middle School, 345 E. St. Charles Road, Elmhurst.

Jason Sperling, the director of the show, said it provides an opportunity for a lot of acting in addition to singing and dancing, and it also has a large cast.

The show presents the tale of an early 20th century Russian father, Tevye the Dairyman, and his family as they experience changes in Russia during that time period.

Two of the members of the cast, which is composed of fifth- through eighth-graders, are eighth-graders Julia Moran and Luke Milani.

Julia, a member of the ensemble who will perform some solos, will be performing in her second show with the Elmhurst Children's Theatre.

She said she really enjoyed meeting new people and having something fun to do after school.

"It's really nice to learn more about history and Jewish culture. ... We put a lot of hard work into it, so it's nice to have people appreciate what we did," Julia said.

Luke, who will perform the role of Yussel, the hatmaker, is in his eighth show with the Elmhurst Children's Theatre. He said it has been "interesting" to get into character.

Luke described himself and his character as "polar opposites" since he is not a 50-year-old Russian hatmaker in the early 1900s. He said he enjoyed learning about the setting of the musical since that aspect of history is "glossed over" in his studies at Sandburg. He added the music and choreography are "excellent."

This is Sperling's sixth time as director for an Elmhurst Children's Theatre production. His last show with the theater was a few years ago, and there are a few children from that show who are in "Fiddler on the Roof."

"I keep coming back to ECT because the kids are great to work with. They're all very talented, but also they have the right attitude, and they're just a fun group," Sperling said.

He said he strives to keep the productions interesting and relevant for the children, including by working with professional choreographer Allyssa O'Donnell and music director Phil Videckis "to up their game and keep us on our toes."

Sperling added he likes to hone in on "making things truthful and emotionally resonate" and trying to keep everyone on stage as involved as possible, acting the entire time they are on stage.

"It's great because it's a universal story," Sperling said. "It's about a Jewish family, largely, but it relates to any religion, ethnicity, what have you. It talks about family and pushing boundaries. ... It's interesting to me to see students' take on it, so to see how it resonates with fifth- through eighth-graders as opposed to how it resonates with an adult. And they're doing a great job."


If you go

WHAT: Elmhurst Children's Theatre's "Fiddler on the Roof"

WHEN: 7 p.m. April 27 and 28, 2 p.m. April 28 and 29

WHERE: Sandburg Middle School, 345 E. St. Charles Road, Elmhurst

COST: $8


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