Toronto actor Gabi Epstein will be performing the role of Tzitel in Fiddler on the Roof at Stage West Theatre Restaurant from Feb. 14 to April 21.
Although Epstein sang songs from Fiddler in Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company’s To Life, for which she received a Dora Award nomination, it is the first time she has been in the musical based on Sholem Aleichem stories.
“Tzitel is the eldest daughter of Tevye and Golda’s five daughters,” says Epstein. “The whole show talks about tradition and going with the times and moving on with new traditions. [Tzitel] is the first one in the family to break tradition by not having a match arranged for her by a matchmaker, but actually marrying for love. Tzitel breaks down the barrier for the rest of the family.”
This is Epstein’s debut at Stage West but she’s no stranger to the theatre having been catching shows there for years. “It is this classic dinner theatre, so you get a really unique theatre experience,” she says. “There aren’t many dinner theatres around at all in Canada.”
She thinks the reason why Fiddler has remained such an important show for so many years is that although it uses Judaism and the culture of Judaism, the issues are heart and home issues families in all cultures deal with.
Epstein hopes audiences leave Stage West humming the tunes from Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s score, including crowd favourites such as If I Were a Rich Man, Sunrise, Sunset, Matchmaker and Tradition.
“There really aren’t that many musicals where you walk away humming the tunes. What I love about the show is the music it is so beautiful,” she says.
“My favourite part about being Jewish is the traditions that I continue to celebrate with my family, and so I just hope that people walk away feeling pride in their family and feeling a sense of their community around them, and that they are proud of the traditions they have and know that change is possible, and open their eyes to it.”
In addition to To Life, Epstein has performed in The Sound of Music, Perfect Wedding, Blood Brothers, Dani Girl, I Love You Because, Edge and Toy Story the Musical.
She’s been making a mark for herself as one of Toronto’s leading cabaret performers and recently made her New York City cabaret debut at the legendary Don’t Tell Mama, in her one-woman show A Gabaret, Cabar’EH, Tales of a Canadian in New York, which the Times Square Chronicles named the top cabaret of 2012.
Epstein, who teaches singing when not performing, has also released a CD, Show Off, which is available on iTunes and her website, www.gabiepstein.com.
Epstein is the daughter of author Kathy Kacer, and her brother, Jake, is also an actor, currently starring in Spiderman on Broadway.
Stage West’s Fiddler is performed by an all-Canadian cast, with George Masswohl as Tevye. The show is directed and choreographed by Max Reimer, and the musical director is Anthony Bastianon.
For tickets, call the Stage West box office at 905-238-0042 or visit www.stagewest.com.