Twenty years after playing the role of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” at East Central University, Jamie Davis is back to do it again.
Davis, 46, will perform the role of the father of five daughters in the ECU Theatre and Music Department’s 2016 production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” set for March 3-5 at 7:30 p.m. each night at the Ataloa Theatre of the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.
“Fiddler on the Roof” is set in 1905 pre-revolutionary Russia. The story centers on a philosophical milkman named Tevye, with his witted-tongued wife Golde and their five daughters – Tzeitel, Hodel, Chava, Sphrintze and Bielke.
They are ruled by community and cultural traditions that, without them in their lives, would be as shaky as a “Fiddler on the Roof.” However, Tevye’s life of tradition is tested among his own community and with the changes from the outside world.
A 1993 ECU graduate, Davis was first asked by Dr. Robert Payne to play Teyve as an alumnus back in 1996 at the age of 26.
This time around, Davis feels like he may have a better grasp on the role because of his real-life experiences.
“It’s a lot less acting because of the stage of life I’m in. I’m actually living it and it makes much more sense now,” said Davis, who along with his wife Amy, have reared two grown daughters – Brittany and Jordan. Both are currently attending ECU. Amy, a school teacher at Hayes Elementary in Ada, is also an ECU graduate.
This time Jamie plays Tevye from a more experienced and knowledgeable perspective.
“At 26 years old, I was just starting my family, and at 46, life looks different,” Davis said. “That goes with the total-life experience. It gives me a better understanding of the character. There seems to be more depth to it now as far as dealing with neighbors, a wife and daughters.”
Two decades of life experiences have certainly shaped Davis’ understanding.
“I feel like I’m a more mature adult and more cognizant in dealing with other people,” explained Davis. “I have a better understanding about when the Jews had to leave their land and the traditions being stripped from them.”
Davis actually got his start with ECU Theatre nearly 40 years ago when he appeared as Jerome, at the tender age of 7, in “South Pacific,” directed by Dorothy Summers back in 1976.
“My dad (David Schallhorn) was the technical director and Dr. Payne had known me as a little kid which is why I was asked to do “Fiddler on the Roof” 20 years ago,” Davis said.
His mother Judy Schallhorn was involved in drama and theatre. That was an influence on him. The ECU ties don’t end there as his father-in-law is Dr. Carl Rutledge, who is professor of physics at ECU and Adolph Linscheid Distinguished Teaching Professor.
“You could say East Central University is a family tradition with us,” said Davis.
As far as playing Tevye in ECU’s 2016 production, Davis is honored with the opportunity.
“It’s a whole new generation of ECU drama kids and it’s been exciting and fun working with them,” said Davis, who is active in the Ada Community Theatre and works for Church Community Builder, a church management software company. He has also spent 15 years on the staff of First Baptist Church of Ada.
A musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” is set to music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Steinf.
The production is directed by Vickie Reifsnider. The musical director is Rudy Lupinski and the orchestra director is Dr. Alan Correll.
Tickets for “Fiddler of the Roof” are $10 for adults and $9 for senior citizens and non-ECU students. ECU alumni also receive a $1 discount per ticket. Admission is free for all ECU students, faculty and staff with ECU ID. Tickets may be purchased by calling 580-559-5751 or going online to ecok.edu/FineArts. The box office at the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center is open from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and one hour before the start of the show each night.