Mark Mitchell has an extensive background in television and film, but is probably best known for his alter ego Con The Fruiterer in the hit television comedy show The Comedy Company. However, Mitchell is no stranger to the stage; his first foray into musical theatre was performing the role of Mr Bumble in the Cameron Mackintosh musical, Oliver! Mitchell’s latest role is Lazar Wolf in Fiddler On The Roof which has just opened to previews at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre.

Mark Mitchell as Con The Fruiterer

Mark Mitchell as Con The Fruiterer

“For many years I played a fruiterer and now I’m playing a butcherer,” Mitchell laughed.

It’s an impressive cast of actors for this production of Fiddler On The Roof. Joining Mitchell are Sigrid Thornton and Nikki Wendt, as well as musical theatre favourite Anthony Warlow.

I asked Mitchell what audiences could expect from a cast with such a strong acting background.

“I hope they’ll see a depth of interpretation that one doesn’t automatically assume will come from dancers who can sing or singers who can dance,” Mitchell replied cautiously. “We’re actors who can sort of sing and sort of dance!”

However, Mitchell does love to sing. His background is Scottish and Welsh, and claims because he is half Welsh he can “half sing!”

Mitchell shared the greatest compliment he could receive was from a Welsh musical director during his time in Oliver! Mitchell was told he couldn’t just “half sing”. Indeed, when Melbourne’s media were invited to a recent rehearsal of Fiddler On The Roof, it was very quickly evident that Mark Mitchell can indeed sing very well.

 Mark Mitchell rehearsal with cast

“The great thing about being an actor who enjoys singing is that it presents a challenge. When I look at notes I see d’s and p’s, so I don’t always know what I’m doing … When it comes to dancing I’m doing so many classes I feel like a special needs student,” he added.

“As you can see I write it down – left, right, right over left, twirl,” Mitchell explained as he showed us the notations in his script he has made to help memorise the choreography.

Mitchell’s only regret is that he didn’t learn to sing when he was young, “I’m sure I would have been better at maths if I’d have learnt to sing. We come to these understandings far too late.”

Fiddler On The Roof is one of the classic musicals but is still very relevant today. As Mitchell explained, it wasn’t written simply to be a Jewish story, but to be reminiscent of every societal group that follows a traditional village lifestyle and must face change.

“It’s just as relevant today as it ever was,” said Mitchell.

Fiddler On The Roof is currently playing in previews at The Princess Theatre in Melbourne’s East End Theatre District ahead of the official opening night on Tuesday 5th January.

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