Meet The Artists: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Actors Krista Curry, Taylor Pearlstein, And Jennifer Wingerter

Meet The Artists: FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Actors Krista Curry, Taylor Pearlstein, And Jennifer Wingerter

Krista Curry, Taylor Pearlstein, and Jennifer Wingerter.

AUTHOR: Erin Treat, Online Engagement Coordinator

Krista Curry, Taylor Pearlstein, and Jennifer Wingerter play Teyve’s three eldest daughters (Chava, Hodel, and Tzeitel, respectively) in ATC’s critically acclaimed production of Fiddler on the Roof. You can learn more about their previous credits here.

ATC:
How did you get started in theatre?

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
I guess I started pretty late, compared to most people. I started writing music – I play guitar and ukulele, and I write music and sing. Then, when I got to high school, other students encouraged me to join drama club and jazz choir, and then I started doing the musicals, and then I fell in love with it. And now I’m going to school for musical theatre at U of A. So I guess I started through music. I still write music and play ukulele today, but that was my gateway into theatre.

MS. WINGERTER:
They tell me that I was singing and dancing before I was walking and talking. I started dancing at 2½, I was in my first musical at 5, and I haven’t stopped since. I went to NYU for theatre, and I’ve been pretty lucky to be working relatively consistently since that time. I’m really happy to be here and doing this show! Fiddler was super near and dear to my heart growing up. There’s a cassette tape that has Annie on one side and Fiddler on the Roof on the other; halfway through the Daddy Warbucks song in Annie, the tape cuts out and you hear baby Jennifer saying, “’Tradition’ now! ‘Tradition’ now!” I apparently had pushed ‘Record’ instead of ‘Stop.’ So this show has been super special to me. Theatre has always been what I wanted to do.

MS. CURRY:
My parents were active in community theatre and it was natural for them to include me, so I’ve wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember. Like Jen and Taylor, I went to college for theatre, and I’m lucky to have been working ever since.

ATC:
How did all of you come to this production of Fiddler?

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
I’m a senior musical theatre major at the University of Arizona. We have a wonderful internship program with ATC, where during your junior and senior year in our program, they often will take people for what’re usually understudy and ensemble roles. I feel very fortunate that I get to perform a leading role, especially in this show.

MS. WINGERTER:
I did this show with David Ira Goldstein up in Seattle, four years ago, at Village Theatre. It feels like I’m back home. I am honored that he and Kathryn [Van Meter] reached out to me. While we have the same costumes and the same set, and even a few of the same people, it’s wonderful to also have all of these new faces and new ideas and new personalities in the cast. I think it revived the show in such a way that it makes it super exciting to perform.

MS. CURRY:
My boyfriend (Erik Gratton, Mordcha the Innkeeper in the show) knows David and was cast first, which is how I was aware auditions were happening. I’ve always absolutely loved this show, and it seemed like the opportunity was ripe for us to work together. So I sent a ton of emails to Tim [Toothman] and David and begged my way into a video audition – and it actually worked! Tim complimented me on being “persistent” … I’m glad that’s the word he used rather than a dozen others I can think of. And Erik and I get to work together—it’s fantastic.

MS.PEARLSTEIN:
They’re the sweetest. He watches her do the ballet every night. I see him in the wings, watching her. It’s pretty cute.

ATC:
There’s a real family feeling that’s unique to this show. Were there special efforts made in the rehearsal process to get you to feel close to each other, or is it just kismet?

MS. CURRY:
Definitely. We did connection games, exercises.

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
Yeah, we would sometimes start the day in a circle, and maybe put certain energies into it, or do a quick exercise with each other.

MS. CURRY:
Also, so many of us knew each other beforehand from Seattle – most of us already were friends with someone else in the cast – and then there are five U of A students who know each other. And honestly, we just all get along really well.

MS. WINGERTER:
I also think this show breeds that. This show is about family and it is about community. It brings out that genuine trust and compassion that many other shows don’t.

MS. CURRY:
We’re all being so vulnerable with each other in this particular show. I mean, you’re going to see your castmates cry every night—that connection’s just going to happen.

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
Armen [Dirtadian], who plays Lazar Wolf, brought this up at a talkback. This is his seventh time doing the show, and he mentioned that this is the best production of Fiddler he’s been a part of, because even though the show does facilitate that family feeling, there’s something about this group of people that’s special. We all get along so well, we all have strong personal connections with every single person. We’re truly like a family.

MS. CURRY:
There’s also something to be said about – it may be the case for all ATC shows, but it’s obviously not the case for every show that we do – the fact that we’re all housed together. When you have non-local actors coming to a place to do a show, most of us don’t have any family here or friends. So we are each other’s family. It really becomes a special little commune.

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
And we’re lucky because everyone’s pretty wonderful in this cast.

MS. WINGERTER:
Both David Ira and Kathryn handpicked this cast. I think that aids in us all getting along. They reached out to us, they knew who we were, and they knew our personalities and maybe had the foresight that we would all get along really well.

ATC:
The main family in particular has to be very, very close. Did you do any backstory work, figuring out relationships between the sisters?

MS. WINGERTER:
We had a sisters’ lunch, just the other day!

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
I feel like it’s just kind of evolved by itself; we never really put any effort into figuring out, “Okay, this is my relationship, this is how I feel about you.” That sounds kinda lazy …

MS. CURRY:
Well, an example of my character’s relationship with Taylor’s: I figured because Chava is the more quiet one who reads books, which is unusual for a girl in this community, Hodel would be the outspoken big sister who would’ve protected her in the—in the metaphorical schoolyard, so to speak. But that’s just one sliver—so much of these relationships are really explicit in the script, by who says what to each other and who is quiet in group scenes, for example. This script is very easy to act. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said a thousand other times, but it’s so well-written.

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
My relationships that I’ve developed with you two, with the other actresses playing the sisters, with Eric [Jensen] and Anne [Allgood] have really informed my character’s relationships with their characters. Eric and I have so much fun being silly onstage. Like there was one day when we were tech-ing “Far From The Home I Love” – we were on stage for about ten minutes, just laughing and singing “Copacabana,” but with shtetl themed lyrics. We were just cracking up. And we have a very kooky father-daughter relationship in the show. Off stage relationships have been informative, just like my relationships with you guys.

ATC:
Would you like to share favorite moments you have, either moments for your character or moments that you like to watch?

MS. WINGERTER:
I like the ending! Watching Tevye and the Fiddler at the very end of the show is really special to me because not only is it a beautiful moment onstage; but backstage, you have the entire cast just zoned in, connected, and watching what is happening.

MS. CURRY:
My absolute favorite moment – and I try to make it there to watch every night – is during “L’Chaim.” There’s this moment where the Russians do this very sexy advance on their knees toward the Jews, and then the Jews sort of raise their arms awkwardly and growl back at them. Our Russians are the four dancers, and our Jews are all these wonderful character actors, and it’s a delightful moment between the dancers and the comedians. It’s a genius piece of choreography.

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
I love when we get to do student matinees. Those are just a hoot. The way they react is just so different than the way adults react. In my scene with Perchik, we kiss, and it’s intentionally the only kiss in the show. One of the funniest moments I’ve experienced onstage is kissing him and hearing the kids just lose their minds over this kiss. Because not only are there two people kissing onstage – which is already wild for a bunch of kids – but we’ve created this world for the kids where boys and girls do not touch, and suddenly we’re kissing. Once they started chanting “kiss” in the middle of the scene, before we even kissed. They’re crazy fun.

MS. CURRY:
That same student matinee, I had my first scene with Fyedka, a Russian, where it’s like—we should not be talking. He said the line, “I often do things I shouldn’t,” and the kids went “Oooooh!” and started talking and giggling, as if they were just discovering the sexual tension.

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
That’s how theatre should be. Theatre should be interactive and responsive and visceral for the audience too.

ATC:
Speaking of the student matinees, you three play the representatives of the younger generation on stage. Can you talk a little about what you see as the relevance of this show for young people today?

MS. CURRY:
There’s an important parallel between what’s happening right now in Syria, with a serious refugee situation around the world, and what happens to the Jews in Anatevka. Tevye and Lazar Wolf both plan to come to America, and they would very likely be turned away today. Our current administration is proud that they would try to turn them away. This also happens to be one of the great pieces of the musical theatre canon, so considering that in combination with our political climate, I’m especially proud to be part of a team putting this show in front of school kids.

MS. WINGERTER:
The show is about family, sibling interaction, father-daughter / mother-daughter relationships. We all can relate. We can all see ourselves in these relationships, these interactions. That it is possible to truly have a love and a connection, and still stand up for what you believe in, and fight for what’s right. To hear the dialogue between Tevye and each of his daughters knowing that that is a discussion that you can have at home as well.

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
Up until recently, my own Jewish heritage wasn’t a huge part of my identity; I didn’t really celebrate it as a part of who I am. But this summer I got back in touch with it, and now that I’m doing this show, it’s a responsibility I feel as a Jewish person to honor my ancestors, honor the history, honor what Jewish people specifically have been through, to carry that forward. So things like when we light the Sabbath candles [onstage] every night, that’s really special to me. The reason that I think Jewish people have held onto those things for so long is because they’ve been displaced, and they’ve been ostracized and separated, and people have tried to destroy them for thousands of years. And so – as this show so beautifully illustrates – those traditions are some of the only things that they have that help them identify who they are. So as a young Jewish person, I feel great responsibility to carry those forward, and honor those traditions, and keep them alive for the people who have protected them all these years and who have known those as the only constants in their life. As a young person in this show, that’s a huge part of what I get from what I do.

ATC:
Are there any post-Fiddler plans you’d like to share with our patrons?

MS. CURRY:
Two weeks after we close here, I start rehearsals in Seattle for a brand new musical that I’m already in love with called A Proper Place, which is going to be at Village Theatre. I’m going to be playing the youngest of three sisters in that as well, so maybe I’ve got a new type.

MS. WINGERTER:
I will be going back to New York and getting back into the audition scene. It’s really exciting and fun, because in New York there are just so many auditions all the time. You get to meet so many different casting directors, different theatres, and different actors. It’s really nice to be able to build the network further. So hopefully, the next show will come soon! Of course, I’ll catch the tail-end of New York winter …

MS. PEARLSTEIN:
I still have a semester left of school, then I’ll be graduating. After Fiddler closes, I’m just going to be finishing school, I’m finishing an album I’ve been working on, and I’m dancing in Evita with my school. After that, I’ll maybe go home to Seattle for a month or two, and then get my booty to New York!

 

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