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Issaquah High debuts new theater with 'Fiddler on the Roof'
Issaquah has always had the professional productions of Village Theatre, but it’s been a while since the city has seen a true community-style theater.
Issaquah High School’s new 600-person theater fills a void for $15 tickets for shows that celebrate the students as much as the arts.
The school christened its stage last weekend with the opening of Fiddler on the Roof, a big performance for a giant stage, which gives plenty of foot room for the dancers.
The new space comes with a sense of respect for the performers, who no longer have to project over the sound of soda machines.
The old space, carved out of the student commons, had people drifting in and out, distracting the audience.
“It has provided that professional atmosphere that was completely unattainable in our previous space,” said Holly Whiting, the IHS drama director.
For the first time members of the community, who had no relation to the students, came in for a show, she said. “I’m hopeful they’ll return for more.”
A live “fiddler” performs from a balcony that looks down on his (and her) orchestra in the pit, which can hold up to 70 musicians.
“We were just amazed when we saw the size of the pit, you could do roller derby down there if you wanted,” said Whiting.
“The acoustics are amazing,” said student Suraj Saifullah, who plays the lead, Tevye.
For the first time IHS has a stage with a fly system, allowing it to use various backdrops. A sheer backdrop is used in one scene to draw in the audience.
A set shop with giant double doors is located just behind the stage, allowing the students to roll the finished products across a hallway.
In the greenroom, a large cast crowds around 16 makeup bays, where boys glue on bits of beard and women secure their proper head coverings.
The leads lived up to the demands of musical with rich singing voices and playful dances.
A favorite was the duet “Do You Love Me?” with Alita Campbell, who plays Tevye’s wife, Golde, and Saifullah. His deep steady voice brought some women in the audience to tears.
The school does three productions each year – including a musical and a play. Fiddler was just the beginning for the school and for the community.
“The feeling in the theatre – there is such a sense of celebration and joy and community,” Whiting said. “It’s such an elegant, beautiful theatre.”
Issaquah Reporter staff writer Celeste Gracey can be reached at 425-391-0363, ext. 5052.
IHS Performing Arts Center
7 p.m., Dec. 9-10
Tickets: $10 for students and seniors, $12 for adults online, $15 at the door.
Suraj Saifullah, who plays Tevye, performs in Fiddler on The Roof on Issaquah High School’s new stage.
CelesteGracey, ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTER