Amish Acres

Amish Acres® Historic Farm and Heritage Resort is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is America's most complete Amish heritage experience featuring historic interpretation, culinary and performing arts, lodging, and shopping.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Odyssey of the Steamer

Ruth’s main steamer in the restaurant’s kitchen broke down on Monday. She needs it for the coming weekend. After much research we ordered a replacement generator for it. The part came in the next day. It was the wrong part. We were told by multiple sources that replacement part for our steamer is no longer made. We found a similar used steamer in Indianapolis. We were told it was in good working order. We drove to Indy and picked it up. Our long time “kitchen mechanic” opened it up to find that it was dismantled and most of the parts were laying on the floor of the machine.

We then, as we should have in the beginning, went to Cleveland Range directly. Our original steamer is still made. Cleveland sent us to a parts company in Kalamazoo which has a branch in Mishawaka. The Mishawaka company cross referenced our serial number and the discontinued part number and found the new replacement part number. Their supplier is in Fort Wayne, Indiana, an hour away. They said we had to replace the blower element as well, but Fort Wayne did not have the second part. We went back to our original supplier who has both the newly numbered part and the blower part. We drove to Aurora, Illinois, returned the wrong part and picked up the correct part. It arrived back in Nappanee on Thursday morning to be installed. We are up and running. We then received a call from the company in Aurora saying that the blower part had been forgotten and was lying on their dock. Obviously we didn’t need the second part since by then we were up and running. We are waiting on the Indianapolis company to pick up the trashed steamer. Ruth is happy, but we are taking no chances.

Tonight, Don Hart, who plays the Rabbi in The Round Barn Theatre’s current production of “Fiddler on the Roof” is coming before show time to bless the steamer. If it worked for him to bless Motel’s new sewing machine, a Singer, so we are confident our “new” steamer will make it through the weekend with hot cooked food.

Review of “Fiddler on the Roof”

In the opening number of the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” Tevya the Dairyman admits that nobody’s really sure how the traditions practiced by the Jews of Anatevka got started. But it doesn’t matter. The traditions are what help the community keep their balance, like that fiddler. The one on the roof.

Now, however, anyone who reads the newsheet handed out at the Round Barn’s production of “Fiddler” will know exactly how playwright Joseph Stein, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and composer Jerry Bock worked together to create the original Hal Prince production!

Ticket holders to this fourth production of “Fiddler on the Roof” will also learn about the inspiration artist Marc Chagall derived from the original Tevya stories penned by Sholem Aleichem, the history of the various Tevya’s who’ve acted on the Round Barn stage, and the amazing story of how Jewish refugees from the Ukrainian conflict are rebuilding their lives in a real life Anatevka, deliberately named the village in the famed musical.

All that before the opening curtain rises and Joseph Stein’s most famous musical fabulously comes to life once more on the Joseph Stein stage at the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres.

Jeremy Littlejohn reprises the part of Tevya he first played in 2006. It is a role for which he is well suited, whether its leading the village in their celebration of “Tradition!” or dancing and singing “To Life,” or pondering “If I Were A Rich Man.” Littlejohn brings what in Hebrew is called “khavod,” sometimes translated as “weight,” signifying not how much one weighs, but how weighty a presence one brings to the scene. He does a great job with a central facet of the character, his willingness to express the full range of emotions to God: wonder, joy, sadness, regret, and even anger and disappointment. There is no false piety in Littlejohn’s portrayal -- just a determination to live out a personal relationship that takes God seriously enough to laugh with and cry with the Creator.

In Hebrew (last time) the word for love does not describe feelings so much as actions. That’s the truth behind the love in the portrayal of Tevya’s wife Golde by Amber Burgess. Whether its in her leadership in the Sabbath service, her response to Tevya’s dream, or simply her response in the central number “Do You Love Me?”, Burgess displays the calm and steady personality that can weather three unconventional marriages chosen by her daughters or the orders to pack up and move an entire household with only three days notice.

Not only that, but her costume design for Fiddler is perfect, bringing to life well worn but well cared for and clean clothes for the villagers.

Everyone in the village of Anatevka is there, just as we want them to be. The three oldest daughters (played by Kristin Brintnall, Abby Murray Vachon, and Katlyn Casanova) each push the envelope further and further, leaving us wondering in the end if faith and tradition will be flexible to handle more and more radical change. Their voices are to die for.

Travis Smith lives the tension between heartfelt love and societies boundaries (dare one say walls), in his portrayal of the Russian Fyedka. He also demonstrates his singular skills as Music Director.

Sarah Philabaum puts an exclamation point to her star turn as Fruma-Sarah, returned from the dead to back up Tevya’s decision to give in to his eldest daughter.

The youngest members of the cast, Amelia Lowery, Hannah Shetler, Martin Flowers, and Drew Flickinger demonstrate the depth of experience they’ve gathered in their theatrical careers, carving out clear characters instead of caricatures.

Director Charles Burr, who has acted or directed more productions of Fiddler than he can remember, recognizes how the stories of a particular people in a specific historical setting is also universal because of our shared humanity, and presents a version that is both comforting in its familiarity but also vibrant and alive.

Sarah McGowran’s choreography is especially strong in “Tradition,” “To Life,” and the extended wedding scene. Executive Producer Richard Pletcher has designed a set that is like one of those wonderful sliding puzzles, in which the pieces are rearranged in several patterns, revealing Anatevka as a character of its own.

The Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres in Nappanee presents “Fiddler on the Roof,” Book by Joseph Stein, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Music by Jerry Bock, produced by special Arrangement with Music Theatre International, through October 16th. For reservations and information call 800-800-4942.