Tevye, the leading man in "Fiddler on the Roof," is in many ways similar to today's everyman.
He is traditional, concerned about his family and worried about his pocketbook.
It makes sense, then, that Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities would choose to present the classic musical now, with the economy in shambles and the holidays looming.
"Fiddler on the Roof" runs through Dec. 21 at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.
The Tony Award-winning play follows Tevye as he balances the needs of his family, the customs of his Jewish culture and the changes that face him and his community during a time of growing anti-Semitism in czarist Russia.
Director and choreographer Jon Engstrom has presented the play twice before, but said he is determined to find something new in each staging.
"When I started working on this production, I threw out all my old blocking, I wanted to start fresh," said Engstrom. "Having done it twice, it's hardest to find more and make sure nothing's been missed."
Engstrom has been exhaustive in achieving that end - from asking for costumes based on artwork that inspired the original production of the show, to literally reading the "Idiot's Guide to Judaism."
"The script takes care of itself," he said. "The show is universally brilliantly written. You can always find something new."
Thomas Fiscella, who plays the role of Tevye, has been away from the musical theater scene for a while, but he said it wasn't hard to jump back into the realm of singing and dancing.
"Tevye is an iconic role," he said. "The responsibility for me is to let go of its iconic status. That's outside the play. The role is a man, not an icon. I want to interact, truthfully, from the start and make it clear that it is new and fresh."
Fellow lead Victoria Strong, who plays Tevye's wife, Golde, is no stranger to "Fiddler," having played several of the couple's young daughters throughout her acting career. This is her first time, however, in the role of the matriarch, a new challenge with new opportunities.
"The role is forcing me to go places I haven't gone before," said Strong. "I go from low humor to high drama, hit all those ranges."
Engstrom said the play is just as important and relevant now as it was when it was first performed in 1964.
"It connects with the current economy," said Engstrom.
"Anatevka (the small village in which the play is set) is just a place. They can have positive experiences without it.
"They are role models for the rest of us, for people who have had to give up things," he said. "They have to deal with change and realize that just because something is tradition doesn't make it right."