Senior plays a tradition in this house

MIDDLEBURY — You can safely say that the theater has been a family affair for the Smalls, and two generations of the clan are playing a big role in this year’s Middlebury Union High School senior play, “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Shannon Bohler-Small is directing, while daughter (and MUHS senior) Chenoah Small is serving as stage manager for the production.

Drinking in it all is Steve Small, Shannon’s spouse and Chenoah’s dad. Steve Small also happens to be director of the Addison Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at the adjacent Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center. Chenoah is one of his A.R.T. students, whom he now gets to see involved in the traditional MUHS senior play that Small himself acted in (“Anything Goes”) as a member of the class of 1974.

Got all that?

Chenoah Small loves to act, but has taken a particular shine to directing behind the scenes.

“Whenever I got a new CD or I had an idea for a fake show, I’d put it on in my bedroom; the bed would be the stage,” she said, with a chuckle. “I would boss my little brother and the other kids around, to do lights and this and that, and I was the main person, and if they did anything wrong I would get really made at them.”

This is Chenoah’s first major stint as stage manager, and she is excited about it.

And she will share the experience with a lot of her classmates.

While there are only 22 roles, 45 students will make it onto the stage for the MUHS production of “Fiddler.” And that doesn’t include support staff, band and other participants.

“We have developed some family units; there are a lot of Jewish families in this play,” Bohler-Small said with a smile, noting her penchant for including as many students as possible in plays. “My rule of senior play is that everybody gets a line; somehow, you will get a line, even if I have to split a line or give someone’s line away.”

The young thespians have been rehearsing since January, and the play has been gradually coming together. Shannon gave particular kudos to the band and to Cody McGlashan, who is playing the lead role of Tevye.

“He is extraordinary to watch on stage; everybody is very good,” Bohler-Small said.

“Things are shaping up quite well,” said Bohler-Small, a veteran director of the MUHS senior play and currently events and administrative coordinator at Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts.

Directing “Fiddler” this year has been particularly poignant for Bohler-Small because of her daughter’s participation and imminent graduation.

“Any scene that has to do with a parent letting go of a child has me in tears,” Bohler-Small said. There is, of course, an emotional scene in the play featuring the song, “Sunrise, Sunset,” evoking the passage of time.

All of the hard rehearsal work will culminate on three “Fiddler” performances at the MUHS auditorium at 7 p.m. on March 23 and 24 and at 2 p.m. on March 25. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students, senior citizens and children. Organizers are hoping for three sell-outs, as the money raised from the shows helps underwrite the costs of Project Graduation for the senior class.

The impact of the senior play on participants cannot be overestimated, according to Steve Small.

“It is something that you remember for a long time,” he said. “When you ask somebody how much foreign language they had in high school, they will tell you they had three years of French, and you will ask them how much they remember. They don’t really remember that much. But when you ask them about the senior play, they will remember who was dating who, whose pants ripped on stage, what the weather was like.”

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.


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