An actress and singer in our production of "Fiddler on the Roof," and I'm applying both terms very loosely, had a major meltdown in the midst of rehearsal today, the end result of which is that she will no longer be playing the role of Hodel. I won't give you too many details of the meltdown, but it reminded me of the way my three-year-old cousin behaved when my grandmother's terrier tore her new stuffed bunny to shreds during church on Easter morning a few years ago. The actress' meltdown was all over her wanting to ad lib the lyrics of "Far From the Home I Love," which is something of a classic and not all that conducive to the artistic license of a twenty-one-year-old neither terribly talented nor inspired novice.
The loss of Hodel is both good and bad. The good part is that she was easily the weakest link in the lead roles. The bad part is that our opening night is in twelve days, and the role that had probably the third most lines of every role in the play is now vacant. I know the lines and my part has fewer lines, so it would probably be easier to fill my part and move me up. The director even threw this out as an idea. The consensus was, however, that it would look like we were promoting pedophilia with me in the role of Hodel. I'm almost believable as Chava, but Perchek, Hodel's romantic interest, is twenty-two and could pass for twenty-five. He said he'd probably quit as well if they made me be Hodel. I didn't really take it as an insult. I just look young.
One guy suggested that at least one-fourth of the high schools in the U.S. have probably done a production of "Fiddler on the Roof" in the past four years, and some of those girls who portrayed Hodel have to be here on our campus. We'll have a massive poster campaign advertising for actresses to audition for the replacement of Hodel. We'll hit the music and theatre departments and all the vocal performing groups particularly hard, figuring our most promising candidates will be there.
When one thinks about it, if a girl or woman knows the role, it's a good deal. She gets a fairly major role in a university production with having to endure relatively few rehearsals and having to have her life messed up minimally. She'll have to be able to relearn the line immediately and learn the blocking, but the blocking is neither all that innovative nor critical. Regardless, as i see it, they could put a mannequin on stage with somewhat reading and singing her part into a microphone offstage and it would be an improvement over the previous Hodel.