‘Fiddler’ roles on Broadway for Peter Cooper neighbors

Jeffrey Schecter (Mendel) and Hayley Feinstein (Bielke) in costume backstage at the Broadway Theatre (Photo by Allison Sherry)

Jeffrey Schecter (Mendel) and Hayley Feinstein (Bielke) in costume backstage at the Broadway Theatre (Photo by Allison Sherry)

By Sabina Mollot

Broadway crowd-pleaser “Fiddler on the Roof,” which had a revival just 12 years ago, is once again back on the Great White Way, its latest version already opening to rave reviews.

Part of the new successful effort are two Peter Cooper Village residents with supporting roles, Broadway veteran Jeffrey Schecter (“Guys and Dolls,” “A Chorus Line”) and newcomer, 14-year-old Hayley Feinstein.

Previews have been running since November 18 while the show officially opened on December 20 with eight performances a week.

Despite their busy schedules, both actors recently took the time to chat with Town & Village about the experience of being part of the iconic musical on Jewish culture and cultural shifts.

For Schecter, it was just the end of what had already been a very eventful year. At the start of 2015, he was unemployed. “The future was very uncertain,” he said.

Then, last summer Schecter and his wife Melissa Schwender Schecter, also an actor and dancer, launched a dance and theater studio for kids (inspired by their first child, daughter Elena) called I Can Do That NYC. The couple also celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary and the birth of their son, Mattias earlier that year.

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ST Broadway performers launch kids’ theater studio

By Sabina Mollot

A Stuyvesant Town couple who’ve worked professionally as actors and dancers on Broadway and traveling productions have recently branched out to launch a school/studio aimed at teaching theater and dance to kids.

The company, I Can Do That NYC, will officially launch in the fall, but owners Jeffrey Schecter and Melissa Swender-Schecter have already been gauging local interest from parents by offering summer camp intensive workshops. The classes they’ve held so far have been at the Town & Village Synagogue on East 14th Street after the company moved to a space there from a studio in Chelsea.

The school was inspired mainly by Helena, the couple’s three-and-a-half-year-old daughter.

“She loves to sing and dance although she’d rather be teaching the class than listen,” said Schecter. Because of Helena’s interest, her parents had taken her to a few different children’s classes, only to then feel like they could do better, both in lesson content and price.

What’s different about his concept, he explained, is that he works in the industry as do the other teachers he’s already recruited for classes. “The classes are being taught by working actors. We’re in the business. We’re living it. I’m auditioning for shows every week.”

Schecter noted that prior to launching the school, he’d already had some teaching experience. For years, he’d guest taught at numerous workshops, usually speaking about the business end of working on Broadway, and recently, he began volunteering as a jazz dance instructor to seniors at the Stuyvesant Town Community Center. His students, he noted, are “so freakin’ cute” and he hopes to have them perform for neighbors on the Oval at some point.

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