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Center Theatre keeps it in the family with 'Fiddler On The Roof'

With its production of 'Fiddler On The Roof,' theater brings another iconic play to community.

February 03, 2012|By Cassandra M. Bellantoni
  • in preparation for the upcoming production of Fiddler on the Roof at Glendale Centre Theatre in Glendale on Monday, January 30, 2012. The theater is the longest running center-stage theater in the country, starting in 1947.
in preparation for the upcoming production of Fiddler… (Tim Berger/Staff…)

The Glendale Center Theatre has had its share of magical moments over the decades. Now celebrating its 65th anniversary, the company is “family owned” by actors Tim and Brenda Dietlein, continuing a long, rich tradition at the theater founded by Tim’s grandparents in 1947.

Tim Dietlein grew up in the theater, first cleaning the floors and building sets. Later he became a producer, elevating the theater to its current professional level. Many of the cast and crew credit his tenacity and multitasking with keeping the audiences showing up, in both good economic times and bad.

“He’s very charismatic. Exhausted, he will work all day, change clothes then go out in front of packed house and say ‘Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,’” said Richard Malmos, who plays Tevye in the GTC’s upcoming production of “Fiddler On The Roof.” “The energy and powerful charisma he brings, even after building sets all day is not phony. It’s real and the audience feels that.”


At a recent “Fiddler” rehearsal, directors and performers described what it takes to bring an iconic play to the community, especially in today’s struggling economy.

“We work very closely with the community and listen to our audiences because they are like our family,” Dietlein said. “We let them know they don’t have to go to an equity house like Pantages to see a great professional performance.”

Even when times are great and shows sell out nightly, the theater business isn’t lucrative for most people involved. The Dietleins are acutely aware that it’s financially challenging for the actors, crew and many times the audience, to support the arts.

“Unless you’re on Broadway or a national tour, it’s very hard to make a living as a musical theater performer,” said actress Nicole Ligerman, who is playing Tzeitle. “I tip my hat to GCT for paying the performers something versus many community theaters where they expect the actors to work completely for free. [The Dietleins] also feed us on performance days and give us free drinks, which isn’t usual.”

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