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Returning to 'Tradition'

It's no accident that Frost Fire Theatre near Walhalla, N.D., picked as its show this summer the fabulous "Fiddler on the Roof," a musical launched by the finger-wagging, foot-stomping tour de force of a song called "Tradition."...

Misti Koop and Jared Kinney
Misti Koop is Hodel and Jared Kinney is Perchik in Frost Fire Theatre's production of "Fiddler on the Roof."

It's no accident that Frost Fire Theatre near Walhalla, N.D., picked as its show this summer the fabulous "Fiddler on the Roof," a musical launched by the finger-wagging, foot-stomping tour de force of a song called "Tradition."

This is Frost Fire's 25th year of shows in its covered outdoor amphitheater in the Pembina Gorge, an anniversary that certainly qualifies the Frost Fire as a theatrical tradition in the region.

"I think the main thing is 'Fiddler' is a classic," David Paukert said. "It's a musical that really touches the hearts of so many people."

For 25 years, Richard and Judy Johnson, who own and operate Frost Fire as a summer theater and restaurant, and as a winter ski lodge, have produced the musicals. This is only the second time they've done "Fiddler"; they haven't repeated more than a couple of shows.

For 20 years, Amy Jo and David Paukert, Michigan, N.D., have directed the shows. David also has acted in many of them (he'll play the rabbi in "Fiddler") while Amy Jo has designed sets and led the pit orchestra.

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And it will be Darin Kerr's 15th show at Frost Fire. Kerr, who is playing the lead in "Fiddler," is one of the region's favorite and most-respected actors.

The show will open at 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, with 6 p.m. and 2 p.m. shows on various dates through Aug. 2.

The cast is full of experienced and talented actors, including Misti Koop, who recently finished a national tour of "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Debra Berger, who's been working in New York City.

Kerr, Koop and Berger are the kind of actors who make every role tstand out. Alongside them will be actors familiar to area theater fans, especially those who saw "Les Miserables" at Frost Fire in 2008, including Jesi Mullins, Jared Kinney, Daniel Dutot, Dylan Croeker, Joel Braxton, James Freestone, Joey Freestone and Tyler Rood.

The cast also includes Rachel Abbe, Caleb Behm, Chandler Cline, Carly Flaagan, Jared Fladeland, Emily Hanson, Sarah Hysjulien, Ryan King, Amelia Klaus, Joe Miller, Marlo Miller, Jenny Morris, Dana Morrison, Jesi Mullins, Mike Peterson, Amelia Schmitz and Claire Thompson.

"We were lucky," Amy Jo Paukert said of the cast. "We knew a number of them might be interested in coming back. We wanted to use their talents. We made a wish list and we're pretty close to our wish list."

Kerr's part as Tevye, a poor milkman in a Jewish village in Russia, was the first role cast. Kerr was chosen without an audition, the Paukerts said.

But the cast has plenty of newcomers. Amelia Klaus and Sarah Hysjulien just graduated and Chandler Cline will be a junior at Central High School. Emily Hanson just finished her freshman year in college.

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Tickets are available in adult, child and group rates by calling (701) 549-3600. You can order tickets for dinner and the show, or the show only. For a complete schedule, see the Web site at www.frostfiretheatre.com/ .

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com .

Darin Kerr as Tevye
Darin Kerr will play the lead role of Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," which will open Saturday at Frost Fire Theater.

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