Harold Orbach, as Tevye, pours his voice and soul
into JET's production of "Fiddler on the Roof"
For 40 years as Temple
Israel's cantos; Harold
Orbach lifted his voice in
spiritual prayer; as Tevye
the Milkman, he cajoles
God for more earthly
. rewards in the showstop-
frer, If I Wire a Rich
SHELLI LIEBMAN DORFMAN
hile most theatrical casts are chosen after the show itself is deter-
mined, the upcoming Jewish Ensemble Theatre production of
Fiddler on the Roof was selected only after its star — Cantor
Harold Orbach as Tevye the Milkman — was on board.
"We only decided to do it if he was available," said Evelyn Orbach, JET's
artistic director and wife of the 40-year Temple Israel cantor, who retired in
2002. "Nobody is more fitting for the part."
Cantor Orbach will command the stage of the Aaron DeRoy Theatre in the
Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield April 21-June 13.
"There are not too many adult male roles in theater," he said. "The play's
Jewish soul is indigenous to my environment."
While the cantor has a lifetime of performance experience — from operas to
stage productions to symphony performances — not until his retirement from
the temple did he have the luxury of large blocks of time for rehearsals and per-
"This is the first time I've been able to settle down in a show," said the can-
tor, who was also a leading tenor for many years with the national touring com-
panies American Savoyards and Piccolo Opera Company.
Another first is his performance at the JET.
"Through the years, I have directed him in plays and operas many times —
but never at the JET," said Evelyn Orbach, who plays the role of Yente the
Matchmaker in the show. "We've worked together on every level. I've turned to
him for his amazing insight. He's my prime adviser.
"My life is so filled with the theater and now he can finally come inside and
be part of it. It's also good to see he's enjoying it."
For many reasons, Fiddler fits the bill for the nonprofit professional theater
company, beginning with its place in JET's "Stop Hate" campaign.
"Every season, we include several pieces that fit that mandate, that address
social awareness, but are still audience-friendly," Evelyn Orbach said.
The play also kicks off the theater's involvement with "Celebrate 350: Jewish
CANTOR ON THE ROOF on page 42