Playing a Role in the NCAC Musical isn’t that Easy

By Shelby Pendowski, Enterprise intern

Editor’s note: This is another story in a summer series of hands-on activities exploring Leelanau County. Next week we’ll try sampling water with volunteers of the Leelanau Conservancy. If you have a hands-on activity of interest to Enterprise readers, email

I missed the formal audition but not the stage fright that goes with a tryout. Still, I got a part in “Fiddler on the Roof.”

And after weeks of rehearsals and the first big weekend behind me, I can honestly say this adventure beats all.

I’ve spit cherries at the Bingham Township Horticultural Research Center, painted the town in Northport with the pros and kayaked the Crystal River, but this one takes the prize … it could even reinvent my acting career.

All I know is that being a supporting cast member in “Fiddler” at the Northport Community Arts Center is rewarding. Not only did I learn what it takes to be a local thespian, but I also connected with new friends.

I savor those connections.

I learned that Lydia Critchfield is the nicest little girl in the county and will brighten up everyone’s day with a compliment, I experienced the quirkiness of Kate DeYoung who is just as outgoing as her characters Frumah Sarah and Yente. And I was taught kindness by Ann Bloomquist, who almost every rehearsal checked to see how I was doing.

To all my fellow cast members — Mozel Tov, thank you and Amen!

My last performance is tonight as I am headed back to Grand Valley State University to continue my journalism career. But, even in my absence, I encourage you to purchase a ticket for tonight or one of the final two shows on Saturday at 8 p.m. or Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling the NCAC at 386- 5001.

I can tell you firsthand that the final product that is getting standing ovations was hours in the making.

Those not involved in the musical didn’t see the months of practice or the endless repeats of “The Dream” performance or experience the daily prayer by director Scott Carter.

And you didn’t see me transform from an intern into an actress.

It was a miracle that I got out of having to formally audition. A few weeks ago, I strutted into the Northport High School with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on repeat in my head, sweating and nervously shaking. I thought I was going to pass out.

When the idea of asking me to take a bit part in the local production of “Fiddler on the Roof” was being thrown around the newsroom, I was hesitant.

I don’t have the voice of an angel and I tend to lack the gracefulness of a prima ballerina.

Although I began rehearsals a couple weeks after the regular cast had started, each of them welcomed me, encouraged me and made me feel rather talented. It was the spirit and cheerfulness of the cast that melted my hesitation.

To be honest, I dreaded this experience to begin with. But after a few rehearsals I was having fun and enjoying it. My first day I met almost every member of Carter’s family.

Each of them was involved whether as an actor, extra or in the technical crew. Isabella Carter plays Chava, AnnaMaria Carter plays one of the young daughters, Johanna Carter plays a mama and his two sons, Isaac and Dominic, were our technical crew working backstage with the props, curtains and lights with Janet Crane.

Interestingly, the Fiddler cast ranges in ages from 8 to 80. All attended almost every rehearsal and they taught me a lesson or two.

I never realized how tiring it was to be in a production such as this — and I am just a general cast member.

When 9 p.m. rolled around and another rehearsal came to a close, my feet were screaming, my head was pounding but I still had a smile on my face.

There is never a dull moment with a group of actors. Between Fred Szczepansk’si Russian accent and phrases, and Tarren Thomas, John Riness and David Butryn’s random spurts of dancing, even our down time was full of laughter.

It helped that in middle school I performed in “Fiddler of the Roof Jr.” so I had the songs and plot still in mind.

For weeks we just danced and sang — they call that rehearsing. As the opening date drew closer, however, we began to fine tune the problem areas of the play. And the week before opening we began wearing our costumes.

Oh the costumes. They were the unheralded work of Kat Bransky and Janet Crane.

The props and sets were the products of Sharon Hall’s never ending work and diligence.

Beneath the many kilowatts of stage lighting, there was no cool cast member to be found. The stage during our five dress rehearsals and during the performances became our own personal sauna.

The entire production deserves more props than I can give in this column. But to the negative Nellys that attend shows to continually critique everything that is wrong, I implore you to try out for a production.



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