Bay Reflections

 Vol. 10, No. 44

October 31- November 6, 2002

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To Our Traditions, L’Chayim!
by Flo Ormond

Traditions are so much a part of our everyday lives that sometimes we don’t even think of them as traditions but simply as the way we’ve always done it.

I was reminded of this on a recent Saturday night as my son and I sat in the audience of Fiddler on the Roof, currently playing at the Chesapeake Music Hall. The opening song, “Tradition,” sums up the theme of the musical and our lives. We all have traditions formed by our families, customs and life styles. Not all of our traditions are as serious as Tevye’s were; some are just the fun things we do to celebrate life — “L’Chayim.”

Like many others, one of the traditions in our family has been to celebrate birthdays and holidays by seeing a play or musical. What separates us from other families is that we often return to theaters in which we have performed or to see shows that we have done in the past. We were known as a theater family –– father and mother, son and daughter — all involved in performing, directing, teaching and even writing plays. As a result, we have a wide variety of theaters in the Washington area to return to and hundreds of shows that we have done.

Watching Fiddler returned me to a stage at Prince George’s Community College some 30 years ago when I played Golde, wife of Tevye; my daughter played Bielke, one of the younger daughters; and my son was in almost every scene as part of the chorus. “Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly flows the years.”

Across the table, Eddy seemed to be doing the same thing, silently mouthing the words we learned long ago to all the songs we still knew.

The cast was doing a fine job and the musical was enjoyable, but our memories were even better because we heard the melodious sounds of a full live orchestra. Today’s non-professional musical theaters simply cannot afford that luxury and must depend on recorded music to do their shows. “On the other hand,” (as Tevye would say) today the music is always the same, does not fluctuate from night to night and all the musicians can be counted on to show up and be sober.

Our delightful actress/waitress, Mary Armour-Kaiser, played Tzeitel, the oldest daughter who first breaks tradition by wanting to marry Motel, the tailor. We waited until intermission to confess to her that we had ‘done’ the show 30 years ago and tell her the roles we had played. She told us that this was her third Fiddler, and that she’d been both Yente, the matchmaker, and younger daughter, Chava.

“Next, I want to play Golde. That must have been fun!” she said, excited to discover another set of actors in her audience. A beautiful, talented young woman, all she needs are a few more years, a lot of makeup and a few more pounds and she will make a great Golde! “A blessing on her head, mazel tov, mazel tov.”

Our memories help form our traditions because the good ones last and we want to relive them. As the holiday season approaches, there are lots of little traditions we follow or create together with our own families. To life! L’Chayim!

Flo Ormond — retired actress, director and drama teacher — reflects from Churchton.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly