Last summer, when Patrick DuMouchel first learned that Lakeside Little Theatre (LLT) was putting on “Fiddler on the Roof,” he started growing a beard, six months before auditions were scheduled.
With a background in theater and a fondness for musicals, DuMouchel likes to aim high. Although he would have been happy landing any part in the 28-person cast, he went for the lead character, Tevye. Much to everyone’s delight, he nailed it.
With a full-on beard and an eagerness to fully embrace Tevye’s character, DuMouchel got to work learning all he could about the poor, Jewish milkman from the fictional Ukrainian village of Anatevka, set in 1905. With a wife and five daughters to feed, traditions to uphold, and constant strife coming from the Tsar’s militia, DuMouchel’s Tevye shines in this award-winning musical.
With rehearsals winding down and 13 performances set to begin on February 16, DuMouchel is determined to bring to the stage all aspects of his colorful character.
For many years, DuMouchel has been involved in theater, beginning in Florida where he has spent much of his life. Since moving to lakeside ten years ago with his wife and son, he’s been in multiple LLT productions.
“All of us kids were raised in a life of theater,” he says. “My father, Robert, was a singer, dancer and actor. My brother, Michael, started a theater company in St. Petersburg, and all four brothers were involved.”
In the summer of 1980, DuMouchel auditioned for a cabaret, which his future wife, Olga, wrote, directed and performed in. Originally from Cuba, Olga was fresh out of a college in St. Petersburg, having received her degree in theater arts. She cast DuMouchel as the only male role and he performed in many of the numbers, alongside Olga.
Says DuMouchel, “That cabaret marked the beginning our relationship.” A year and a half later, they became Christians, and got married shortly after.
“Olga is a gifted director, actor and theater coach and continues to be a great support to me,” DuMouchel adds.,
Since moving to lakeside, the two have been members of the Lake Chapala Baptist Church. DuMouchel keeps up his involvement with the church’s music ministry, and in other areas where he can help out. Their involvement led them to befriend the church’s minister, Bob Hendrick, and his wife Judy, the church pianist.
Says DuMouchel: “We had been living at lakeside a few years when Judy, who also happens to be the piano player in ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ was drafted to do the music for LLT’s ‘The Drowsy Chaparone.’ Bob decided to get involved, so I figured I would audition. I landed the role of Adolfo.”
From there, the lakeside theater bug kicked in and he was cast in such productions as “Hooray for Hollywood,”, “Local Hero,” “A Taste of Broadway” and “Chicago.”
“I stepped into ‘Fiddler of the Roof’ without ever having seen it,” he says. “All I knew were a few of the popular songs. Before the audition, I made sure to watch the movie and some online theater productions. I also read stories from Shalom Aleichem, which the musical is based on, learning all I could about Tevye and his relationship with his daughters.”
Never having had daughters, DuMouchel wanted to get a perspective and an emotional sense of what a father has with his daughters, so he arranged to meet with the father of the three sisters who play Tevye’s daughters. “When I relate to these characters on stage, I want to better understand that father-daughter relationship.”
DuMouchel says that when he is playing Tevye, he finds that he’s relating to his father, who died in 1998.
“Like Tevye, my father had a big family, starting with five boys and one girl. A year after we moved to Florida, my mother died. I was eleven. One year later, in 1968, my dad got together with Lynne, another amateur actor, having met while acting together in a one-act play. With the death of our mother, Lynne filled a huge hole in our lives. They got married and, together with her four girls and two boys, we became one big, happy, blended family of 12.”
With 20 to 25 hours of weekly rehearsals, DuMouchel is trying hard to keep up with his full-time job as a systems designer in 3D modeling for a Florida company.
“I’ll be on my computer, sometimes until midnight, to accomplish what I need to get done,” he says. “This is after hours of rehearsal and time to study my character, memorize my lines and get my songs down. So far, I’m amazed that I’ve been able to do it all. But for me, it’s all worth it, just to be able to play the part of Tevye.”
“Fiddler on the Roof” runs February 16 to March 1 at Lakeside Little Theatre, Ajijic. For ticket information, see lakesidelittletheatre.com.