Crew works out kinks as it starts building ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ set


The Russian village of Anatevka began to take shape Sunday afternoon as the production lighting was installed in McCain Auditorium.

Preparations for the musical began last spring when the K-State theater department decided to produce “Fiddler on the Roof.”

John Uthoff, head of lighting and associate professor of speech, communication, theatre and dance, started communicating with various people involved with the different components of the musical a few weeks ago. He spoke with the wardrobe, sound production and props departments to get an idea of what kind of lighting “Fiddler on the Roof” would need.

Uthoff said the lighting for the show needs to be cohesive and fit well with other aspects of the production.

“Hopefully the lighting ties in with the set, wardrobe and actors,” said Uthoff.

There are nearly 170 different cues for lighting during “Fiddler,” which includes sounds, props and set changes.

About 12 people will work on the lighting from now until the musical’s debut on Nov. 14, including students in Fundamentals of Stage Lighting, interested theater students, Uthoff, and Eric Voecks, Utoff’s lighting assistant and junior in theater. Voecks estimated 20-30 hours per week will be put into the lighting preparation, with most of the focus on the lighting happening in the next three to four days.

The lighting in McCain poses a more difficult problem than in other spaces because of its traditional and larger stage. Nichols Theatre was built specifically for musicals and plays, using light is much easier there. McCain plays host to a variety of productions and must be customized specifically for each one.

Though people might think the lights in a production are unimportant, both Uthoff and Voecks stressed the importance of lighting to the musical.

“Lighting establishes the times of day, mood of a scene and the emotion of the musical,” said Voecks. “It helps move the production along.”

Voecks also noted that while lights are used in most productions, the way they are used varies from show to show.

“All the components are the same from production to production, but in theater, the same thing is never done twice,” said Voecks. “Every production is unique.”

The set for “Fiddler on the Roof” will be added to the stage today and will be tested with the lighting. After the set and lighting configurations are finalized, wardrobe, props and sound aspects can begin to move into the theater.

“Each piece builds on another,” said Uthoff.

Any time a production begins to come together, problems surface. Voecks noted the importance of adhering to a set schedule to help move production along.

“If preparations for the musical are not organized, everything turns into a mess really quickly,” said Voecks.

More than 100 people are working on the project, including K-State students, faculty and people from around the state. Actors for the production will work overtime in the next few days. The cast has been rehearsing in Nichols because of the recent production of “Peter Pan” at McCain. The actors will not even have a chance to test their skills in McCain until Wednesday and will have to work to keep up with the production schedule.

Meghan Newman, senior in theater, French and English literature, said she knows how hard the actors are working for the performance.

“We have to work three or four times harder to project more energy into a large space like McCain,” Newman said. “We have to work harder to fill it up.”

With all the hard work being put into the production, “Fiddler on the Roof” is set to be a successful show; tickets are available now from the McCain Auditorium Box Office. Tickets are $10 for K-State students and children, $13 for seniors and military, and $15 for the public and K-State faculty.