Cast of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at Sewickley Academy has become like family to each other

Monday, February 24, 2020 | 11:01 PM


Catherine Cable fought back tears at the thought of saying goodbye to her closest friends.

The goodbye will come on stage at Sewickley Academy during the spring musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” where Cable stars as Golde. For the high school senior, though, the moment is all too real — the cast of this year’s musical has become a family.

“We have bonded really closely, which I think is awesome because it allows us to tell the story in a way that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” said Cable, 17.

Roughly 25% of Sewickley Academy’s Senior School is involved in some way with the show, said Joe Jackson, director of theater arts.

The musical is something that brings together students from all walks of life, Cable said.

“You’re able to connect with them and bond with them because sharing a stage with someone is one of the best ways to bond,” she said.

Jackson is in his first year as theater teacher at the school. He previously was a dance teacher for eight years.

He selected “Fiddler on the Roof” because of its “wonderful story,” and the ability students would have to showcase their acting, singing and dancing “at such a high level.”

One question Jackson heard repeatedly after selecting the show was, “Do you have a Tevye?”

Tevye — the lead role in the show — is a poor milkman in a small Russian village in the early 1900s, where he tries to protect his five daughters and instill tradition in them as the world around them changes.

In auditions, freshman Ibrahim Khan, 15, shined.

Jackson excitedly answered to people still asking “Do you have a Tevye?” that “Yeah, we have a Tevye! Ibrahim has definitely earned this role and he’s going to be amazing.”

Cable loves the show for its music and story. She recalls seeing it at the Benedum. “It was sort of heart-wrenching in a way that I felt really touched by,” she said.

Khan watched the movie as soon as he found out the show and “immediately fell in love with it — the story, the music, the characters. It was incredible,” he said.

For him, the ups and downs of the show — with joy and sadness — are the best part.

“I think I’m able to show my range as an actor,” he said. “It’s incredible to experience such a heartfelt story and one that I can connect with, with people that I connect with.”

The story features Jewish traditions and history.

For Jackson, it is important to get it all right. He sought the help of colleagues and brought in resources to ensure the show keeps its Jewish authenticity.

Cable and Khan say the ending of the show is sad, and a little heartbreaking. Jackson sees it as hopeful.

“They’re going to move on. They’re going to find another place and they’re going to be OK,” he said.

For the show, Khan has to dig deep.

“I’m 15 and I’m supposed to be playing a dad. In my life, I haven’t really experienced any major loss, so losing my daughters when that happens, it’s something completely new to me,” he said. “I just try to put myself in the mind of Tevye. How would he react? How would he feel?”

Khan says what makes Sewickley Academy’s show special is the amazing talent of the seniors on stage.

Likewise, Cable points to Khan being a freshman standout on stage.

“For me, it goes back to the sense of community and family that they’ve created,” Jackson said. “Everyone is so tight. We warm up with each other. We laugh with each other. We’ve started to create a sense of community.”

The cast of 33 students will come together on stage Feb. 27-29 at 7 p.m. Tickets are free and can be reserved online at www.sewickley.org/tickets.