While the Helena High and Capital High School football teams face off at Vigilante Stadium in a semifinal playoff game, a team of more than 50 actors from both high schools will be dancing and singing across the Capital High School’s stage.
This year’s crosstown play, opening 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, couldn’t be a more engaging production -- the Tony Award winning Broadway hit “Fiddler on the Roof.”
It runs weekends through Nov. 18 at the Capital High School Auditorium.
The energy and high spirits were palpable at Tuesday afternoon’s rehearsal, as students belted out the opening number, “Tradition.”
This year’s production team brings together not only crosstown students, as well as the two high school drama teachers directing the play, Laura Brayko, CHS; and Rob Holter, HHS; but also the two choral directors, Thomas Baty for Capital and Molly Steele for Helena High; and a student orchestra under the direction of orchestra teacher Zach Harris.
It all adds up to one impressive production showcasing talented students from both schools, with a huge cast in addition to orchestra members.
“When they realize just how powerful the story can be, it’s pretty special,” said Brayko.
The cast has moved beyond just learning their parts, she said, and are absorbed in telling the story of the Russian town of Anatevka.
At its center is the endearing story of Tevye, a turn-of-the century father dealing with the challenges of raising five daughters. Challenges so great, they have him questioning his Jewish traditions and very faith.
Now in its 15th year, the crosstown play continues to be popular with staff and cast members.
“It’s a great place for kids from across town to meet each other ... that gets everyone working cooperatively,” said Holter in an IR story from last year. “There’s no huge competition here as to who’s better. We’re all number one -- not one team or another.”
The two leads in this year’s play couldn’t agree more.
“It’s so cool I get to work with Capital kids," said Austin Giarde, an HHS sophomore who plays Tevye. “Instead of a football game where we’re against each other, we’re friends with each other. I have so many friends here.”
“I just really love the way it’s written,” he said of the play. “I love every single song.”
Among the many memorable ones are "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man" and "To Life."
“It’s so much fun,” said Alicia Treichler, a CHS senior playing Tevye’s wife, Golde.
“I just in general love theater. It’s what I want to do the rest of my life.”
“It’s kind of a family,” she added. “You’re with these people so much, it’s nice to have the camaraderie.”
The teachers and staff seem to be loving it too.
“I think it’s pretty rare that seven of us share similar philosophies,” said Baty of the team of teachers and drama coaches working together to produce the show. “All of us are in it for the students.”
And this happens to be one special musical.
“‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is a musical that lives in everyone’s bones,” he said. “The music gets inside of you.”
A few of the joys of this year’s production are the huge turnout for auditions and “the caliber of the musicianship and ability,” Baty said. “It’s exciting, really exciting. They sound really, really good.”
Steele from HHS echoes these sentiments, adding that the music is so much fun and the play’s characters so likable.
“The style of music is so fun,” she said. “You can easily tap your foot to it. ... It’s easy to love it and get hooked on it. Give it a shot and in the first five minutes you’re going to be wowed.”
Shows are 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, Nov. 9-11 and 16-18, at the Capital High School Auditorium, 100 Valley Drive.
Tickets are $10 adults, $8 students/seniors and are available at the door.