Albert Lea Community Theatre’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ begins this week

Published 6:23 pm Monday, June 17, 2024

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One actor was in same play through ACT in ’70s

More than 45 years ago, area resident and actress Sue Wiersma performed in her first rendition of “Fiddler on the Roof” with Albert Lea Community Theatre.

This week, decades later, Wiersma will act in the classic play again, this time as the mother of her initial role.

“Fiddler on the Roof” kicks off Thursday at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center and will run each day through Sunday, as well as June 26 through 30. Shows start at 7:30 p.m., with the two Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

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Set in the little village of Antevka, the story centers on Tevye, a poor milkman, and his five daughters. With the help of a colorful and tight-knit Jewish community, Tevye tries to protect his daughters and instill them with traditional values in the face of changing social customs and the growing anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia.

The show features iconic and beloved songs such as “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” among others.

Wiersma said this time around, she plays Golde, Tevye’s wife, and the mother of the daughters. In 1978, she played Hodel, one of the daughters.

Wiersma said she has done a lot of shows with Albert Lea Community Theatre over the years, and when a good show comes up, she auditions. Her first play with ACT was back in 1976 with “Oklahoma.” She also participated in every play there was when she was in high school. Then after graduating high school, she went off to the University of Minnesota but drove back down to Albert Lea to be a part of “Fiddler on the Roof,” which at that time was being directed by Michael Brindisi. As a theater major, she said she wanted to work with Brindisi, who now is co-owner and longtime artistic director at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre.

She said she performed the show an additional time when she and her husband were first married, at that time also playing the role of Hodel, which she said is her favorite role in all the shows she has ever done.

“If you are at all interested in current events, it’s a play that’s kind of emotional to me,” Wiersma said. “It’s a play that’s very important in our time right now with what we’ve been seeing happening over in Ukraine.”

The play this time around is directed by Gordy Handeland and musical director Diane Heaney, both who are well known in the area for their productions.

Handeland said one of the highlights of the show is it will have the largest orchestra they have ever had for a musical at the theater with a 17-piece orchestra, led by Heaney. The cast has over 40 actors, with 17 of them brand new to the Albert Lea theater.

The cast has been practicing since April.

“It’s got wonderful music, a lot of good roles,” Handeland said, noting that actors come not only from Albert Lea, but Owatonna, New Richland and even some into Iowa.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students. They may be purchased over the phone by calling 877-730-3144 (service fees apply), online at, or at the box office.

Tickets are also for sale at the Albert Lea Convention & Visitors Bureau. The ACT website has more information on tickets and box office hours.


Tevye, the Dairyman: Jason Howland

Golde, his wife: Sue Wiersma

Tevye’s daughters:

Tzeitel: Emma Barclay

Hodel: Ava Cunningham

Chava: Joey Maiden

Shprintze: Kassady Palomo

Bielke: Kiara Moen

Yente, the Matchmaker: Rebekah Sousa

Motel, the Tailor: Angel Hernandez

Perchik, the Student: Logan Strom

Lazar Wolf, the Butcher: Barry Back

Mordcha, the Innkeeper: Noah Iverson

Rabbi: Jon Cochran

Mendel, his Son: Connor Hanson

Avram, the Bookselller: Jesse Strouf

Nachum, the Beggar: Jackson Bighley

Yussel: Isaac Lowe

Grandma Tzeitel: Lisa Sturtz

Fruma-Sarah: Melissa Griffith

Constable: Kris Bertelsen

Fyedka: Garrin Loveland

Shaindel, Motel’s Mother: Cindy Gaudian

Sasha: Mady Schlaak

The Fiddler: Rebekah Crissinger

Villagers: Rebekah Bertelsen, Deb Fensin, Aimee Fink, Aaron Garcia, Abraham Gonzales, Chloe Griffith, Selah Griffith, Adele Hehr-Rosnow Helleksen, Elizabeth Holcomb, Evalyn Holcomb, Heather Kohler, Erin Lowe, Kristen Malmberg, Emma McColley, Maci Smith, Aubrey Taylor, Ian Taylor and Allan Wichmann

Production staff

Director: Gordy Handeland

Musical director: Diane Heaney

Choreographer: Bridget Halvorson

Technical director/set designer: Mark Bartleson

Lighting designer: Dietrich Poppen

Stage manager: Karen Hendrickson

Production manager: Jason Howland

Backstage technical assistant: Sophia Gordon

Props, set dressing: Arielle Miller, Tony Segura

Makeup: Phil Hanson, Arielle Miller, Heidi Stoltenberg

Hair: Phil Hanson, Arielle Miller, Heidi Stoltenberg

Lights: Brady Schlaak

Spotlight: Bennett Schlaak

Sound: Carter Schlaak

Costumes: Rosalie Truax, Jean Aamondt, Marcia Bruns, Linda Opstad, Joann Schwartz

Photography/Videography: Kris Bartley, Phil Hanson, Aaron McVicker


Bass: Parker Jensen

Cello: River DePoppe

Guitar: Aaron Bartz

Horn: Tony Whelan

Percussion: Todd Peterson

Flute: Emma Stanley

Clarinet: Mike Hanson, Ruby Mykkanen, Kuol Duol

Bassoon: Gayle Brownlow

English Horn/Oboe: Kylie Pape, Suzanne Mauer

Trombone: Brenda Wichmann

Trumpet : Katelyn Holt, Trenton Mickels, Maxx Richards

Viola: Deb Cooper

Violin: Becky Crissinger, Deb Linnes, Jane Hanson

Keyboard: Diane Heaney