2015-02-27 / Front Page

No fiddling with tradition here

Kennebunk High School to host winter musical the next two weekends
By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer


Kennebunk High School junior Ben Walker- Dubay, center in blue, rehearses his part as Motel during a run-though of “Tradition,” the opening number from “Fiddler on the Roof,” playing Feb. 28 through March 6 in the school’s Alexander Economos Auditorium. See more photos on the Post Facebook page. 
Duke Harringtonphoto) Kennebunk High School junior Ben Walker- Dubay, center in blue, rehearses his part as Motel during a run-though of “Tradition,” the opening number from “Fiddler on the Roof,” playing Feb. 28 through March 6 in the school’s Alexander Economos Auditorium. See more photos on the Post Facebook page. Duke Harringtonphoto) For Kennebunk High School students Rosie Crimp and Zanna Spinney, there’s something poignant about their participation in the school’s annual winter musical.

This year’s production, “Fiddler on the Roof,” features 35 of their classmates in the cast, and a roll call that runs to more than 50 when counting students in the orchestra and in the tech crew. But each girl also is performing alongside her sister in a show that’s all about family, and tradition.

“The story is about trying to connect to your family,” explains Crimp, a 16-year-old junior. “This has connected me and my sister in a way we never would have gotten to otherwise, because she’s six years younger than me.”

Fifth-grader Virginia Crimp is one of several elementary school children augmenting the Jewish village scenes in the classic musical, set in 1905 Russia.

For Spinney, 17, who plays the titular fiddler, the play hits even closer to home.

“Three of the older sisters in the play are breaking with tradition and moving away. That’s me this summer,” said Spinney, who, in a break from modern tradition plans a “skip year” in place of an immediate transition into college from high school.

“I’m going off across the country in August; So, to play a role that represents tradition, and to watch the sisters in the play drift off and go in different directions is sad and bittersweet for me.”

Spinney’s sister, Ellie, is a freshman member of the cast.

“It’s amazing in this show to see the connection between family and faith and how characters are willing to sacrifice certain aspects of their faith in order to maintain their families, and how people are willing to break away from tradition in order to do the things they love,” Spinney said. “But one think I’ve learned from this show is that you can bring your faith and your traditions with you wherever you go. It’s a very portable part of you, even if it may be rooted in a place.”

According to KHS band director Benjamin Potvin, this is something of a building year for the school’s drama program. Several longstanding members graduated last year, which also featured a show with a smaller cast. This year’s larger show shines a spotlight on number of new performers, and others taking on leading roles for the first time.

“For me, it’s a new experience because I’m usually in the background as part of the ensemble,” Spinney said. “It’s really amazing to be the title character of such an import at show.”

It’s also something of a gender-bender, as the fiddler is generally a male role.

“She just moves very well and dances so nicely and has such a presence. She has really great instincts as an actor,” said Director Ellie Connors, of her decision to cast against type. “Zanna has the ability to take the audience along with her on the journey, and not every actor presents that.”

Connors is directing her first musical for KHS, which marks another milepost in its transition year. Still, she’s no stranger to the arts. Her resume boasts 23 years as owner of the musical murder-mystery company, Get A Clue Productions. And, when not doing that, she leads the theatre arts excel program for the Noble School System, teaches drama at CATA, a Dover, N.H., charter school, and is the newly appointed artistic director for Portsmouth Christian Academy.

As some of her actors have already noticed, she says, Fiddler is a timeless play, with themes of faith and family that reverberate across the decades, more than 50 years after the show was first produced on Broadway.

“I think it’s very timely play,” she says. “It goes back to family and community and the importance of that strength and that solidarity of a group of people. I think that’s all but gone in our society. I’m one of those older people who feels like our traditions and the way that we’ve done things for so many years is changing so rapidly that it feels like we can’t grab on to anything. Meanwhile, kids are going six ways to Sunday, texting each other at the dinner table instead of having real conversations.”

Clearly, one doesn’t have to he Jewish, Russian, or 110 years old to appreciate the story of Fiddler on the Roof.

“And the music is just amazing,” says Spinney. “It’s really beautiful.”

Both Crimp — and aspiring singer who looks forward to majoring in operatic performance with a minor in conducting when she goes to college — and Spinney say they are thankful for the arts program at Kennebunk High School.

“I grew up in a very small town, Madawaska, where the arts opportunities were very slim,” Spinney said. “So, to come to a school but not only has the arts, but puts such an emphasis on them, is so important to me. Without moving to Kennebunkport, I never would have had the exposure to the arts that I do now.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever have a career in the arts — I would absolutely love that — but I know I want to have it in my life as long as I possibly can, and Kennebunk High School has opened that opportunity for me.”

Fiddler on the Roof

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 27-28, March 6-7; 2 p.m. March 1, 8.

Where: Economos Auditorium, Kennebunk High School.

Tickets: General admission, $9 and can be reserved online at musicatkhs.com or by calling 985-1110, ext. 3141.

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