Stars Over Veishea presents: Fiddler on the Roof

Liz Cleaveland

“Fiddler on the Roof” is the performance of choice for this year’s Stars Over Veishea. Having reeled in numerous Tony Awards and holding the record for the longest-running show on Broadway for 10 years, this classic is full of heartwarming universal themes.

But just how did Stars Over Veishea get its start? Formerly known as the Nite Show that began in 1923, this 90-year-old tradition changed its name when the location of performances used to be held in Clyde Williams Field under the stars.

Students used to write musicals and perform them, but interest as well as motivation was quickly lost. In 1958, the plays were moved to CY Stephens where the orchestra and actors could be heard due to the improved acoustics. The concerns of uncooperative weather were also alleviated by this relocation.

Abby Lund, junior in performing arts, said that this will be the third Stars Over Veishea event that she has been a part of. This year, Lund will play Yenta, the matchmaker, and encourages everyone to come see the play.

“It’s a very good funding opportunity for our department,” Lund said. “A lot of the older generation, like alumni, always like to come because they know Veishea just as well as everybody else, so I think it’s good because it brings back old community members.”

Brad Dell, assistant professor of music and theatre for Iowa State and director of the show, said they have been collaborating with the music department to provide the unforgettable scores.

“There is approximately a 15-20 piece orchestra comprised of all music majors volunteering to do this,” Dell said. 

When asked how plays were chosen for this long-standing tradition, Dell said “We chose Fiddler because it’s a classic and it has universal appeal to people young and old. It’s a story that people love, and they love to see again and again and again. We’ve also been trying to alternate shows by doing a more contemporary type of a show one year and more of a classic show the next.”

Anson Woodin, senior in finance, is no newcomer to Stars Over Veishea, having played in last year’s production of RENT and the Opera Candide last fall.

This year, he landed the lead role of Tevye, the father who is overly concerned with tradition and finding his daughters suitable husbands with the help of Yente, the matchmaker, played by Lund.

“There are a lot of levels to this play, which is part of the reason as to why it’s been popular for so long. The biggest is that it revolves around family and the community.”

Woodin said there are many aspects that appeal in the play.

“You also have the aspects of oppression and hard times that they face and you get that a little with the cultural basis, but overall it’s having that family aspect and surviving with the changing times and persevering; making your life the most it can be out of the circumstances that you have.”