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'Fiddler on the Roof' Brings the Timeless Truths of Humanity to the Stage

For actress Ruthy Froch, playing Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof is a dream come true - and not just because it's a lead in the First National Tour of the show. Froch performs her 350th show this week at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, and she's not slowing down any time soon.

We interviewed Froch to learn about her experience performing with the First National Tour of Fiddler on the Roof, and in the hopes of discovering what inspires the young actress night after night on stage.

The perspective she shared with us was even better.

Read on for a behind-the-scenes look into the life and heart of an actress performing one of the most famous Broadway roles in history. We're thrilled to report that there's much more to this Hodel than meets the eye.

Ruthy Froch as photographed by Dana Patrick Photography. | Source.

Q: How did you get into performing, Ruthy?

A: I am originally from California, and it's funny, but I kind of just I fell into acting. I was a very articulate child who loved telling stories. I adored creative writing all the way through school. I still do. My first debut on stage was in the third grade play. We performed an educational musical called "BUGS" in which I was cast as a brussel sprout. (laughing) I loved every minute of it, so not long after that my parents put me into voice lessons.

I was a child who loved to learn. That love continues to this day. I always enjoyed homework. I loved literature, especially. I remember reading The Crucible in high school. It changed my life. I was taken back by the historical significance of the work, and realized the power in researching why things make people the way they are. It was this discovery that led me to fall in love with acting.

Cast photo taken by Joan Marcus. | Courtesy of RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.

Q: Do you still think about that when you prepare a role?

A: Absolutely. I love that theatre makes people think about something differently. It is relational. When we tell stories, it helps us get insight into the lives of others. It forces us to begin to try to understand the history of entire people groups and places. Theatre puts all of us - the actors and the audience - on a the same playing field. I love it for that reason most of all.

Q: That is beautiful, Ruthy. Do feel this production of Fiddler on the Roof does that as well?

A: I do. Fiddler is timeless. Everyone has heard of the story, and most people know at least a few of the songs. It's a show about history, and the legacy we leave behind. It's a story about people finding themselves and remembering where they come from - and where they are going.

Cast photo taken by Joan Marcus. | Courtesy of RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.

Q: What surprised you the most about this production?

A: The relevance of it. Fiddler premiered in 1964 during a different, but similar time in our nation's history. I love being a young woman and telling this story about women learning the gravity and power of their voices, and how to use them to get what they want. History repeats itself, and I feel that although we are in a very different time and place, we can all relate to these young women who are finding themselves. It's important for all women to see this evolution of girls to women on stage as they find their voices - especially now.

Q: What an amazing perspective. Are there other themes that stick out to you about this production?

A: There are. This production goes beyond the story and into the lives of human beings. The Syrian Refugee Crisis inspired the staging of the 2015 Broadway revival, and that inspiration has been carried into the tour. You can see it in the very first scene, and it's a theme that is present throughout the entire performance. This story is the story of so many, and though historically set in a very different time, Fiddler forces us to consider the lives of people we may not wholly understand.

It is an important distinction for us to remember the different between immigrants and refugees. Immigrants choose to leave their homes, and refugees are forced to do so. The historical bookmark of what happens on stage is paralleled with our world in a way that is hard to ignore. It's really powerful, and I am very proud to be a part of telling this story every night.

Cast photo taken by Joan Marcus. | Courtesy of RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.

Q: That is beautiful. Thank you for sharing that insight with our readers. What else would you like for them to know before they see the production?

A: I am personally about to give my 350th performance of this show. So many people ask me how you keep a role fresh after that many performances, but to me it's very simple. There is a gift on every page of the script. Each of us can identify with people, and Fiddler is just that - an inspiring, moving, story about people. Even in 1905 Russia, these people are dealing with the exact same things we are today. They're navigating familial relationships, discovering their core values and why they are so, they're living in community, and they're learning about love.

Even if you've seen it and think you know this story, I'd encourage you to come to the show and watch it again. Maybe you'll find you identify with the father? Maybe, you'll look at the mother and see her point of view?

I believe that everyone will find someone in which they can see a bit of themselves. A moment where you'll recognize a piece of your story sewn into the music or the plot. And that is what keeps me able to just get lost in the story and give my all in every single performance, night after night. I love what I do, and so does our entire company. We're driven by the collective belief that everyone deserves an opportunity to share in this story with us. ◼︎

Watch a preview of the show as Hodel (Froch) and her sisters (played here by Natalie Anne Powers and Mel Weyn) sing "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" from a performance during the National Tour.

If You Go:

What: Fiddler on the Roof

When: October 23-24, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Heard Theatre, RiverCenter for the Performing Arts

Cost: $64-$69.


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