TC alum, now board chair, takes on ‘Fiddler’ lead role


LyndonVixTevye.jpg Tabor College Board Chairman Lyndon Vix, an attorney from Maize, will play two traditionally important roles during the Centennial Homecoming celebration, Oct. 1-5.

In addition to presiding at the board of director?s meeting, Vix also will play a leading role in a cast of more than 50 performers on stage, as Tevye, in the campus production of ?Fiddler on the Roof.?

Vix, who has grown a bushy beard for the leading role, admits to being typecast to play the larger-than-life character with strong opinions about everything. Asked about his previous acting experience, he quipped, ?Well, I am a lawyer?.

?Participating in this production has been more fun than a good Mennonite should be allowed to have,? Vix added. ?I?ve really enjoyed getting to know and working with the students. It makes me think it would be great to be a college professor?except, of course, for the teaching part. ?

?Fiddler on the Roof? is set in 1905 in the small Jewish settlement of Anatevka, Russia, where life is hard and governed by the traditions of the Jewish way of life, including marriages arranged by the village matchmaker Yente.

The drama unfolds as Tevye, a hard-working milkman, his wife, Golde, and their five daughters, try to keep their balance as dramatic changes take place all around them.

The role of Golde will be played by Holly Swartzendruber, assistant professor of voice at Tabor College.

Swartzendruber has extensive experience in both opera and oratorio roles, including solo roles for the ?Requiems of Faure, Brahms, and Mozart,? as well as ?Handel?s Messiah.?

Director Judy Harder, associate professor of communications and drama, said, ?Behind Lyndon and Holly is a solid and talented cast and crew, each one making a strong contribution. We are expecting a great show.?

The vocal quality of the cast is outstanding, said musical director, Brad Vogel, professor of choral music.

?They sing expressively and with understanding, and I?m sure the audience will be moved by this quality,? Vogel said. ?Additionally, the pit orchestra is comprised of Tabor students and alums, and each member is a strong soloist in his or her own right. It?s a joy to be working with such talented musicians.?

In addition to Vix and Swartzendruber, the cast includes other faculty and community members, including the local newspaper editor.

Tabor?s small-college atmosphere makes it possible for everyone to work together in perfect harmony, Vix said.

?I don?t think this could work everywhere,? he added. ?The inclusion of alumni and community members in a significant college drama production such as this says a lot about the ability of Judy Harder and Brad Vogel to blend diverse acting and singing talents.

?It also says a lot about the kind of students at Tabor, who are willing to welcome outsiders into what they could certainly view as their production.

?I think that from the first day, everyone from the new freshmen to the oldest cast member, who?s probably me, have felt accepted and appreciated.?

Ironically, Vix appeared in ?Fiddler on the Roof? during his first year at Tabor College, 30 years ago this fall. They recruited him from the freshmen registration line because they were short on men?s voices for the chorus, he said.

Vix?s amateur acting career got an unexpected revival four years ago when his daughter, Kayla, persuaded him to try out with her for the Maize Community Theater?s production of ?Fiddler on the Roof,? and was cast as Tevye.

He also has appeared in the Maize Community Theater?s ?Oklahoma? (as Jud Fry) and ?Music Man? (as Mayor Shinn).

Vix said he is delighted about rejoining his daughter on stage at Tabor, where Kayla, a junior, plays Tevye?s daughter, Hodel.

?It creates an interesting dynamic, particularly the scene where I have to say goodbye to her at the train station as she leaves to be with her fianc? in Siberia,? Vix said. ?I am hoping that life does not imitate art in this instance.?

Despite his enthusiasm and suitability for the role, playing Tevye will be a bittersweet experience for Vix. The part was to have been played by Vix?s former choral director, Jonah Kliewer, emeritus professor of voice and choral music.

Kliewer, who had a rich baritone voice, died July 12, after a short battle with cancer.

?Everything I know about singing I learned from Jonah Kliewer and there are very few people for whom I have ever had greater respect,? Vix said. ?To fill a role that should be his is both humbling and frightening for me.

?I was able to talk to Jonah briefly in May to tell him that I was going to be playing the role,? Vix added. ?His kind words of affirmation continue to be a source of encouragement to me.?

Ticket information

Tickets for ?Fiddler on the Roof? are selling quickly. As of Monday, the 7:30 p.m. show on Saturday, Oct. 4, and the 2 p.m. show on Sunday, Oct. 5, are sold-out, and only a few tickets remain for the 7:30 p.m. show Friday, Oct. 3.

Tickets are available yet for Wednesday, Oct. 1, and Thursday, Oct. 2. Both begin at 7:30 p.m.

Ticket prices are $10 for general seating and $8 for students. Run time is three hours, including intermission. Reservations may be made by calling the student development office at 620-947-3121, ext. 1033.

Local members of ?Fiddler? cast

The cast of the Tabor College production includes several people from Hillsboro. They are:

  • Holly Swartzendruber: Golde, Tevye?s wife.

  • Audrey Weinbrenner: one of Tevye?s daughters.

  • Maria Loewen: Yente, a matchmaker.

  • David Vogel: Motel, a tailor.

  • Aaron Stepanek: Perchik, a student.

  • Justin Moore: Lazar Wolf, a butcher.

  • Darren Enns: Fyedka, a Russian soldier.

  • Douglas Miller, the rabbi.

  • Benjamin Heyen: Mendel, the rabbi?s son.

  • Don Ratzlaff, the constable.

  • Kyle Kroeker: a Russian soldier (dancer).

  • David Epp, Heather Stepanek, Trent Voth: members of the village ensemble.

  • Anna Glanzer, Benjamin Koop, Preston Loewen, Alayna Regier, Brandon Vogt, Molly Wiebe: village children.

A listing of the entire cast can be found on the Tabor College Web site:

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