Seton’s theatrical couple embrace unique roles

When “Fiddler on the Roof,” Seton Catholic Preparatory’s winter musical, opens Feb. 10, the high school’s Black Box Theatre will be teeming with proud parents, grandparents, siblings and friends, all counting down the minutes until the curtain opens to whisk them back to a small Jewish village in Imperial Russia.

Ticket sales predict a sold-out crowd, and Seton Drama Director Bridget O’Neill should be a bundle of nerves. On the contrary, she says, “Opening night is when I sit in the audience to enjoy the show. At this point, the kids and Daryl are running it.”

Daryl is her longtime technical director and husband with whom she shares a passion for live theater, especially high school theater.

Daryl and Bridget O’Neill pose on stage where Daryl’s technical theatre students at Seton Catholic Preparatory are assembling sets for Bridget’s acting students to perform “Fiddler on the Roof.” (courtesy photo)

“The play is her baby until opening night, and then it’s my baby,” Daryl, who also teaches math at Seton, chimes in.

A technical director and his crew are often called the unsung heroes of theater. Daryl has yet to be presented with a bouquet of roses during a curtain call, and that is fine with him.

“The technical director’s job is to make sure the production goes seamlessly. If nobody says anything, I’m happy. That means we’ve done our job,” Daryl said. “My wife’s perspective of the show is definitely different than mine.”

Indeed, it is hard to imagine a director who is oblivious to reviews, good or bad. But for Bridget, who also chairs the English department, this show is personal on many other levels: “Fiddler on the Roof” is the first musical she ever saw (in 1st grade); she saw a local high school production of it the night before giving birth to her son; her son is getting married the day after the Feb. 17 show; and her dad’s theme song is, “If I Were a Rich Man” because he, too, had five children (four girls, one boy), like the show’s iconic lead, Tevye.

For the Seton production of “Fiddler,” the crew is almost as large as the cast — about 60 in all. That doesn’t include parents and volunteers who devote countless hours toward productions by helping with set construction, painting, wardrobe and other projects.

Christina Doroz, a Seton Catholic Preparatory parent, sews costumes for “Fiddler on the Roof,” to be performed Feb. 10-12 and 17-18 at the Chandler school. (courtesy photo)

“Our costume moms are the greatest,” Bridget said. “Costumes are not our forte at all.”

One of the mothers, Christina Doroz, sewed 15 prayer shawls for the male characters in “Fiddler” and has also created costumes for Seton musicals “Into the Woods,” “Little Women,” “Grease” and “My Cousin Lino.”

Doroz, a member of the parent-lead Seton Fine Arts Association,  , enjoys collaborating with the O’Neills and appreciates their devotion to Seton’s drama program.

“I love it,” said Doroz, whose son Nicholas works on the crew but also has had a couple of minor roles on stage. “It’s fun to spend time with him and help out the rest of the kids at the same time.”

In addition to “Fiddler,” the Mesa couple has teamed up for three other Seton winter musicals: “Godspell,” “Into the Woods” and “Grease. “ They intentionally started small (“Godspell”) and progressed to larger, more complex productions.

They met in 1987, when Daryl hired Bridget as a waitress at a New Jersey ice cream parlor he managed. One of their first dates that summer was to see “A Chorus Line” on Broadway.

“I wanted to be a performer,” Bridget admits, “but over the years, I have funneled my creativity and the need for the stage through my students.” Daryl satisfies the same need back stage, stage right or stage left, wherever his technical skills are required.

Daryl and Bridget O’Neill are happy with their roles at Seton, and to that the Seton community says, “Bravo!”

“Fiddler on the Roof” runs Feb. 10-12 and Feb. 17-18 at Seton Catholic Preparatory. For tickets ($5 for students and $10 for adults), contact the Seton Spirit Store at (480) 963-1900, ext. 2036 or sscrip@SetonCatholic.org.