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Central High School's production of "Fiddler on the Roof" opens on Thursday.

INDEPENDENCE — Central High School’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” has been a long time in the making.Vocal music and drama director Jeff Witt has been waiting about 20 years to put on the show.

“It’s a beast,” Witt said.

And it’s an iconic and challenging musical, he added.

The CHS Performing Arts website describes “Fiddler” as the story of a poor milkman in 1905 Russia who “tries to protect his (five) daughters and instill them with traditional values in the face of changing social mores and the growing antisemitism of Czarist Russia.”

Witt was open to anyone playing the lead role of Tevye, he said, but he needed to know he had at least one person who could play that part.

“I have the right person now with Carson (Abrahamson),” Witt said. “I’m the choir director too, so I know the singers.”

Abrahamson was eager for the challenge and tried out for role.

“I kind of thought it would be a good fit for me,” Abrahamson said. “I gave my all for it. It was one of my dream roles.”

Abrahamson, a senior, played Scar in CHS’s production of “The Lion King” last year.

“I think I can pull this out of him,” Witt said. “I’ve been very surprised with some of the other kids, how they’re able to hit the emotional beats and movements.”

Abrahamson said some of the scenes were difficult for him.

“It’s tough to get into,” he said. “To be able to cry on stage.”

In the lead role, Abrahamson is on for almost the whole show.

Of the many songs he learned, one of his favorites to perform is, “If I Were a Rich Man.”

“It’s Tevye’s time to shine, to show what he’s about,” Abrahamson said.

The fiddler, played by freshman Seth White, sits atop a 17-foot platform behind the house.

Though there is a track of music, White plays some of it on his own, Witt said.

The first live production of “Fiddler” that Witt saw was at his high school.

Two of the scenes he recalls with fondness are the bottle dance — no one dropped the bottle — and the sabbath prayer.

“(I remember) the whole cast surrounded the house with candlelight as they sang,” he said.

That was the one thing he asked to have in this set design.

See the show

What: “Fiddler on the Roof”

When: Feb. 28 – March 2; March 6 – 9 at 7 p.m.; March 2 at 2 p.m.

Where: Central High School Auditorium, 1530 Monmouth St., Independence

Tickets: Adults, $8; students/youth $5

For more information: www.chsperformingarts.org

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