Amateur production’s fascinating backstory

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An 100-year-old Jewish prayer shawl belonging to a cast member’s grandfather will feature in Morley Amateur Operatic Society’s upcoming production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Actor Michael Siegel, who is playing Tevye, will wear the family heirloom while appearing in the show, whose plotline bears striking similarities to his grandfather Myer Sieglnitsky’s story.

Myer was forced to leave his village in Lithuania as a teenager during a Russian anti-Jewish pogrom, and escaped to the USA.

“My grandfather and the other villagers were forced to leave due to the destruction of their homes and feared for their lives. My grandfather, who was just a teenager, made a decision to leave Lithuania to avoid the uprising. He packed a suitcase and made his way to America through Ellis Island where the authorities changed his name to Siegel,” said Michael, who lives in Batley.

“He took a suitcase of belongings and clothes and one of the items was his prayer shawl, which I found among my late father’s possessions and it has become a treasured family heirloom. When I got the lead in Fiddler on the Roof, I thought it would an ideal opportunity to honour my grandfather by wearing the prayer shawl.”

The production also features three generations of the same family, with Edwin Kirkwood, his daughter Rachael and her son Ryan all appearing.

Michael will be joined on stage by Jane Ellaway (Golde), Laura Evers (Tzeitel), Lauren Teal (Bielke), Daisy Baum (Chava), Molly Fascione (Shprintze) and Ysanne Morrill (Hodel).

The show is Ysanne’s first with the society while Lauren, Daisy and Molly are all Saturday Kids Club graduates.

“Michael’s story is incredible, it’s amazing how closely the storyline in the show echoes his own grandfather’s experience, it’s really quite emotional. Our audiences are in for a real treat, the whole show will be brilliant, and I would go as far as to say that Michael is the best Tevye that I’ve ever seen,” said Steven Holt from MAOS.

Fiddler on the Roof runs from September 28-October 1 with performances at 7.15pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.15pm.

Tickets are £11 and £9 for concessions and can be ordered by ringing 07960766334. They will also be sold at Morley Market every Friday and Saturday.

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