A perfect musical

Four weeks of successful rehearsals for "Anatevka"

Over the past four weeks, Theater Erfurt’s rehearsal stage has become a second home for the cast of Anatevka. With exception of three Sundays, they have been singing, speaking, acting and, of course, dancing every day. In conversation with Rainer Zaun, who is going to play the part of the Jewish milkman Tevje alternating with Ks. Máté Sólyom-Nagy, we’ve come to know exciting details and lots of insider information about rehearsals.

'Anatevka is the perfect musical for me, it just has got everything. From funny to sad scenes with depth, beautiful and at the same time very sophisticated music, lots of dance scenes and great dialogue that is subtly acted out,' says Rainer Zaun. He recommends the world-famous Broadway musical to everyone. It captivates audiences by alternating happy and sad moments while promising suspense from the very first to the last minute.

In Ulrich Wigger's new production of the musical Anatevka, the entertainment value takes centre stage, despite its references to the current political situation. In an interview with Sylvia Obst from the city magazine tam.tam. the director explains: 'We have an impressive set by Leif-Erik Heine and historising costumes by Jula Reindell. It was important to us that they reflect hope and joie de vivre despite the political situation. Kati Heidebrecht's choreographies are dances and movements in which all the inhabitants of the shtetl are involved – the whole wonderful ensemble of soloists and the highly motivated chorus –which expresses this special feeling of community and togetherness within the Jewish shtetl with enormous intensity.'

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Foto: Lutz Edelhoff | Rainer Zaun spielt den jüdischen Milchmann "Tevje"
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Probenfoto: Lutz Edelhoff | Hannah Miele als "Hodel", Ks. Máté Sólyom-Nagy als "Tevje"

In rehearsals, Wiggers has the singers speak their roles first in order to get a feeling for and access to the text as well as to their respective character. When memorizing his part, Rainer Zaun is guided by his ear and very often also by his family and friends, who record the lines of the other characters in the show as audio files. This method of learning has proved particularly useful on longer car journeys, where while listening one can speak or sing along out loud without disturbing others. The only downside: there are more speed camera photos in which Rainer Zaun can be seen with his mouth wide open in total immersion. No wonder, because when singing he often completely dives into his role and sometimes overlooks one or another speed limit.

He also puts energy into dancing. In the language of musical theater he considers himself a 'mover' rather than a 'dancer' and has always loved dancing and moving. During rehearsals, however, he claims to learn music and lyrics much faster than long choreographies. The double casting of the character Tevje is not a problem for Rainer Zaun: 'You don't have the responsibility of performing all 20 performances in a row, but rather have a day off to recover. The rehearsal process is more difficult. Here you would need more time to create and develop your stage character, because everyone expresses emotions and certain traits of a character differently.' It is precisely these subtle differences in the portrayal of Tevje’s character that the audience will ultimately be able to discover.

We would like to thank Rainer Zaun for this interesting conversation, wishing everyone a relaxing summer break and hoping to see each other again in August at the latest at DomStufen-Festspiele.