Irvington High School’s Jake Glantz says he’s honored to be playing Russian dairyman Tevye, a role played by Topol and Zero Mostel.
“To follow in their footsteps is a bit humbling,” says the 17-year-old senior who wraps up a high-school career that has included playing Roger in “Grease,” the Lion in “The Wizard of Oz,” Albert in “Bye Bye Birdie” and manager Benny Van Buren in “Damn Yankees.”
“This is the only role I’ve needed to put on a dialect,” he says. He credits musical director Stephen Di Giovanni for helping him master a range of songs, from “If I Were a Rich Man” to “Tradition.”
And there are all those lines, he says.
“I tried to count them all,” he says. “There are a lot of them.”
And a lot of them are monologues in which Tevye speaks to God, asking his guidance, questioning him, bargaining with him.
“It’s definitely a hard role, but it’s the most fun I’ve had with a role,” Glantz says.
Playing a father of five daughters in 1905 Russia is a climb for a 17-year-old in 2014, he says, but gives credit to his fellow actors — particularly those playing his family — for making it easy.
“They’re so great, even the little ones, that they make it easier for me to play the papa,” he says.
Director Diana Selenow enlisted the help of Irvington alum Jane Abbott to help with directing and choreography. The recent grad has worked with Alvin Ailey and now studies at Columbia. Watching her work with the bottle dancers — boys who dance with bottles on their hats in a signature moment from the show — Abbott spoke their language (which wasn’t Russian), and was so excited to see the progress they made.
Pulling double duty is Clara Montgomery, who plays the title character and the ghostly Fruma Sarah, who appears in a dream. Both roles require Montgomery, a freshman, to be up high: One on a roof, the other via a flying apparatus, bedecked in a long string of pearls.
Here’s the Running Lines video I shot in Irvington. Enjoy.