Traditions can shape us; they are the bridge between the past and the present.

They can keep memory, family and ritual alive.

That is at the center of “Fiddler on the Roof” which has celebrated tradition since 1964.

Tonight, Pima Community College keeps that going when it opens its production of the musical by Jerry Bock , Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein

Director Todd Poelstra says the time is right for the play here.

“Tucson is changing very fast. How do we maintain our ‘Tucsonness’, move into the future, embrace it to an extent and stay together as a community?” said Poelstra. “With a particular show like this, it has been done probably a thousand times in Tucson, it still heals, it eases our pain, it moves us forward, it enlivens us with a sense of strength and fortitude.”

Set in 1905 Russia, a time of turbulent change in the country, a poor dairyman named Tevye struggles to preserve his Jewish traditions with his five daughters. Living in a Ukrainian ghetto village, Tevye encounters many outside influences on his and his family’s lives and values.

The Tony-winning musical includes familiar songs, such as “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Matchmaker.”

In an attempt to reconnect and celebrate our community, Poelstra says each show will have a different community member performing with the cast of 35.

“We crave story. We want to hear stories endlessly,” said Poelstra. “We will never stop telling stories, we will just reinvent it for our time. For those community members who have this opportunity to celebrate with this particular group, it is a win-win for everybody.”

Before the show, audience members will be treated to a multimedia exhibit of photos, poetry and stories submitted by members of the community.

“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll do it in a room with like-minded people,” said Poelstra.

Anthony Victor Reyes is a University of Arizona journalism student apprenticing at the Star.