CLINTONVILLE - With all the changes surrounding the AuSable Valley Central School Drama Club's annual musical production, it's only fitting their show centers around breaking tradition.
This year, a cast of more than 50 will be featured in a production of "Fiddler on the Roof," the 1964 musical by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick.
Five students from Willsboro Central School will join more than 30 7-12 graders from AVCS, along with 15 students from the district's two elementary schools. For the first time in more than 10 years, adults from the community will be participating as well, including a handful of AVCS faculty and board members.
After several seasons running the lighting board for drama club productions, senior Nick Payette steps into the lead role of Tevye, the monolithic milkman who struggles against the unraveling of traditions by both his daughters and a host of outside influences.
"It's a tragedy," said Payette, "but at the same time it's a lot different from any show I've ever seen."
The musical centers around the conflict between tradition and change within the context of a Russian Jewish settlement in the early 20th century.
"Times are changing all the time and people need to adjust to change; good or bad," said Joli Straight, who plays oldest daughter Tzeitel. "Definitely, it shows that love can overcome anything."
"There's humor, which a lot of people wouldn't expect," Straight added, "but it adds a lot to the play."
Director Derrick Hopkins said the show differs somewhat from many of the productions done at AVCS in the past, which, while entertaining, may not have been as meaningful.
"We had always tended toward really family-friendly shows," said Hopkins. "With this one, the audience will love it for a different reason."
Diane White returns as choreographer and production manager. With long-time music director Steven Collier taking a year off from the drama club, this year's production includes Karen Becker in charge of both the orchestra and stage singers.
The State University of New York at Plattsburgh music professor, who also directs Champlain Valley Voices, said it's been fun for her to work with an energetic group of students on a well-loved musical.
"It's historic," Becker said of the music from "Fiddler." "Everybody has a memory of these tunes from some time or another."
Yet another change this year is the ticket price, which was increased by $2 this year to benefit the Knight Hope fund, a charity founded by Doug Knight that contributes to research and treatment of ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
"He and his wife, Alice, had run our sound board since we started in 1993," noted Hopkins.
Doug, who was diagnosed with ALS last summer, is unable to return this year, however.
"Fiddler on the Roof" will be performed at the AVCS auditorium Thursday, March 12 through Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the door or by calling 834-2800, ext. 500.