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Fiddler on the Roof

The shows on the Broadway Across America tour are sometimes on the road for years, which means slight shifts in choreography and direction may occur. That is, unless someone keeps such things from happening.

“My official title is Resident Assistant to the Director/Dance Captain,” said Miami native David Enriquez, who is a graduate of PAVAC (Performing and Visual Arts Center), the school that would become the New World School of the Arts. Enriquez is currently working on the touring production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“I am in charge of maintaining the direction and intent of the director, in addition to maintaining the choreography that was set at the time of the rehearsal process,” Enriquez said.

As Dance Captain Enriquez also occasionally appears in the show, and can cover as many ten roles as needed. Enriquez first performed in “Fiddler” in 1989, which was also the first time acclaimed actor Topol did the show in the United States. Topol also starred in the Norman Jewison movie version of “Fiddler” in 1971, and has declared this production his “Farewell Tour.”

Set in Tsarist Russia in 1905, the show follows a Jewish father named Tevye (Topol) as he tries to get his daughters to follow family and religious traditions. The original 1964 Broadway production was nominated for ten Tony Awards, and has spawned four successful Broadway revivals.

Before saying “farewell” to Enriquez, we asked him about “Fiddler,” his career, and roller skates.

What would you do if you were Tevye and had such insubordinate daughters?

Probably exactly what happens in the show—they end up doing what they want anyway, and you love them regardless. That’s why the show is so popular. Fathers get tested and don’t always get their way. Family, unconditional love, being tested in every way possible—nothing has changed since the show started.

If you were a rich man, as the song goes, what would you do?

I would buy a beautiful home for every one of my family members, then take care of the world when everyone is set up and happy.

Do you notice any differences in Topol’s performance now as opposed to when he first started doing the role more than 40 years ago?

He’s 74 now, but really nothing’s changed. He’s gotten older, but you don’t notice that on stage. Nobody knows the role the way he does.

Tell me the one thing about PAVAC that best prepared you for “Fiddler.”

Even though we’re required to take the usual classes—dance, acting, etc.—we performed a lot. All year. There was always the major musical, but we probably did close to 7-8 different kinds of shows throughout the year, which really got our feet wet in terms of performing in front of audiences and getting to know how to work under pressure.

What’s the most difficult show you’ve done?

I’d say it was wearing roller skates in “Starlight Express.” I was part of the original cast in Las Vegas for two years, and it’s the most challenging show I’ve done physically and in terms of choreography because you’re not dancing on two feet, you’re dancing on eight wheels. For the first four weeks of rehearsal we learned how to skate from a professional coach—we didn’t learn any choreography. You have to have a little bit of craziness in you to want to do that show.

What’s been your favorite show to do?

I have two of favorites: “Evita” and “Hello Dolly!” I love period pieces, and both are great. “Dolly” is more classical musical theatre, and being of Spanish background I love “Evita” – the music, the tango, and the Spanish flavor of it.

What show would you like to do more than any other?

I would love to play the King in “The King And I,” because of my strong connection to [famed choreographer/director] Jerome Robbins. I’ve done “West Side Story,” and I was fortunate to work with Robbins on “Fiddler.” He was the master of Broadway. He brought the ballet world and merged it into musical theatre, and his choreography is so eloquent and beautiful.

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