Thietje takes final bow with ‘Fiddler on the Roof Jr.’

Twelve years ago New Prague Middle School music teacher Addie Thietje began a tradition of spring musicals with "Fiddler on the Roof Jr." Now she’s ending her run as a teacher and director with another production of that musical.

"I hadn’t planned on this to be my last one," said Thietje, who is the music director for the show.

That changed when she and five other teachers decided to take early retirement under a one-time early incentive package offered by the New Prague Area School District. The New Prague Area School Board approved the package at its Monday, April 8, meeting.

The All School Musical of "Fiddler on the Roof Jr." will be presented in the middle school’s auditorium over the next two Fridays and Saturdays. Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 26, 27 and May 3 and 4 and 2 p.m. on April 27 and May 4.

Thietje has 70 students from grades sixth through eighth performing in the show. Based on the hit Broadway musical the story centers on Tevye, a poor Jewish milk man. He, his family and neighbors live in the Russian town of Anatevka in the early 1900s. Tevye tries to hold onto his culture’s traditions while dealing with the changes in the world.

Thietje said the middle school production is a shortened version with a dream scene removed. She noted practices have been going well. There have been some challenges due to the April snowstorms that have resulted in the canceling of two practices.

"It’s been very busy," said Thietje. "The kids have been juggling the snow days or it’s been one thing and another."

She stressed despite those events the students have been hard workers.

Helping Thietje with this production have been her sons Ben, who is directing, and Toby, who is working as musical director with his mom. Toby and Ben are also doing the choreography for the musical.

Also helping with the show are Sharon McLellan with costumes; programs - Emily Transburg, Katie Hendricks and Jacob Washa; sound and lights - Sam Goetzinger; set creation and construction - Izak Jirik, Gabe Ferris, Noah Hummel, Nick Arguedas, Caleb Loney, Jim Pelowski, and the custodians; and tickets - Cindy Perkinson and Lana Knoke.

"We have such a great community here at the school," said Addie. "The kids, the parents, everyone has been awesome."

Addie said her first production of "Fiddler on the Roof Jr." was made up of eighth graders. While this one has all grades, the majority are sixth graders.

She said doing "Fiddler on the Roof Jr." again has been an awesome experience. "It brings back a lot of memories. ’

"I have the best job in the world," she said. As for it being her last middle school musical, Addie said, "It’s been a lot tougher to retire than I thought it would be. To not be doing it anymore is hard. I will miss my ‘kids’ the most."