WEIRTON - Jake Curtis, 12, is taking his talents to the bright lights of the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera stage, appearing in "Fiddler on the Roof," now playing through July 22 at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh.
"I saw an ad that they were casting 'Fiddler' at the CLO, and I wanted to try out for it," he said.
As part of the ensemble, Jake will appear in a scene celebrating the marriage between the characters Tzeitel (Emily Shoolin) and Motel (David Pearlman).
"I'll be singing and dancing," he said. "I'm going to be on the left side (of the stage)."
Curtis is a student at the CLO Academy, where he takes music technology and pre-teen acting lessons. He also takes voice lessons locally from Lolou Roseberry and has done so for approximately five years. Jake has been rated superior in voice during Federation of Music Clubs auditions at West Liberty University.
"I just like singing," said Jake. "It's one of my favorite things to do."
He has appeared in local productions with the Weirton Community Players and the Brooke Hills Playhouse. He also appeared in the CLO's "A Musical Christmas Carol" as the Turkey Boy, and said he'd like to try for the part again, when the annual production appears again during the holidays.
Jake has done voice-over work for television shows and commercials with Studio L and provided background vocals for the local Make-A-Wish chapter's theme during its annual fundraiser at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort. He did voice work for "Bar Karma" on Current TV.
"I like doing it (voice work)," said Jake. "It's like singing in that you get feedback and corrections. I like working in the recording studio."
He also frequently performs the national anthem and other music by request at local community and church events.
Although he has never danced before, he said he enjoyed it and has enjoyed the rehearsals as well.
"I've made a lot of friends," Jake said. "It's a lot of fun, to go in there with your friends and sing and dance all day. Practice, practice, practice all day - but so much fun."
He said he would like to go into music and entertainment, noting he'd like to work on "Saturday Night Live."
"I think I want to do both (sing and act), like Justin Timberlake," said Jake. "I like to make people laugh."
He is entering the seventh grade at Weir Middle School this fall and has attended St. Joseph the Worker School. Jake is the son of Jennifer Curtis and Mike Curtis of Weirton and the grandson of John and Mary Ann Pulice. He has two brothers, Michael and Drew.
"All of the support is overwhelming," said Jennifer Curtis. "When he was in 'Christmas Carol,' between neighbors, classmates, family and friends and teachers, there must have been 100 people come to see him. We are so appreciative."
"Fiddler on the Roof" follows a Jewish father and his daughters as they clash over tradition in pre-revolutionary Russia, featuring songs such as "If I Were a Rich Man," "Sunrise, Sunset," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" and "Tradition." It runs two hours and 30 minutes and is suitable for all ages.
"Fiddler on the Roof" was written by Joseph Stein (book), Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics). Jack Allison is the director; Mark Esposito is the choreographer; and Tom Helm is the music director. It stars Lewis J. Stadlen as the father, Tevye, and Susan Cella as Golde, his wife. Appearing as the daughters are Emily Shoolin as Tzeitel, Lauren Worsham as Hodel, Anne Markt as Chava, Alexis Feldman as Schprintze and Ellie Tongel as Bielke. Their suitors are Hunter Ryan Herdlicka as Fyedka, Nick Verina as Perchik and David Perlman as Motel.
Performances will be held at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. today, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. July 21, and 2 p.m. July 22.
For tickets, call the Box Office at Theater Square at (412) 456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghclo.org.