Noa Luz Barenblat, a Baldwin Wallace musical theater graduate, has felt a special connection to the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" since she was a youngster growing up Jewish in San Antonio, Texas. Now, she's playing one of the musical's iconic roles as Chava in the show's national tour, which she joined in August.

"Chava is the one who marries a [non-Jewish] Russian and she is banished from her family,'' Barenblat, calling from the tour in Indianapolis Oct. 2, said of her character, the third-oldest daughter of milkman Tevye.

The actress, 22, recently joined the show with a number of new cast members for the tour's second year. She performed her senior showcase in New York and got an agent there in April, graduated from BW in May, moved right to the city and landed the role of Chava within one month, after three rounds of callbacks.

Now, the "Fiddler on the Roof" tour is opening E.J. Thomas' Broadway in Akron series with two shows Tuesday and Wednesday at the University of Akron. Starring in the show are Israeli actor Yehezkel Lazarov as Tevye, Maite Uzal as his wife, Golde, and Carol Beaugard as matchmaker Yente. Playing opposite Barenblat as the two older sisters are Kelly Murphy as Tzeitel and Ruthy Froch as Hodel.

"I have known 'Fiddler on the Roof' since I was a little girl and I think I would have been really excited to go in for any of the sisters. But I do have a very special place in my heart for Chava and I really love the complexity of her character,'' said Barenblat, who grew up studying Israeli folk dance with her mother.

In this story, set in the Russian shtetl of Anatevka in 1905, eldest sister Tzeitel marries Motel the tailor, Hodel marries student revolutionary Perchik and the book-loving Chava marries gentile Fyedka.

"The stakes kind of get higher and higher with each sister" pushing the boundaries of tradition with their parents by finding their own loves rather than using a matchmaker, Barenblat said.

Interestingly, this actress has a family connection on her father's side to a Russian shtetl: According to her family's oral history, one of her ancestors was born in 1908 in the shtetl of Vishgoradek. His family emigrated to the United States, much like Tevye's family does in "Fiddler" as a result of the Jewish pogroms.

"It's really special. I already felt connected to the story just because of my religion and my Jewish culture but knowing that I have ancestors that sat in very similar places as to what I get to play in every night is really, really special to me," Barenblat said.

This actress enjoys using her dance training in "Fiddler on the Roof,'' which is her national tour debut. She's the sister with the most dramatic conflict with her father, whom Tevye sings about in the sad song "Chavaleh (Little Bird)" after she elopes. That song leads right into a dream dance sequence featuring Barenblat and two other female dancers that the cast calls the "Chava Ballet."

The show is choreographed by Israeli choreographer and modern dancer Hofesh Shechter.

"I think one of the really special and amazing things about this production in particular is the choreography. It's very modern,'' Barenblat said. "It definitely pays homage to Jerome Robbins' original choreography; like we have pieces in there like 'The Bottle Dance,' that's like a very traditional section. But overall, the choreography is very modern and it's very grounded in our bodies."

"It's really beautiful and almost ancient in the way that it feels," she said. "I kind of like to think of it as like a physical manifestation of the joy of Jewish culture.''

For the tour, Barenblat's cast worked with Shechter's associate choreographer from the 2015-2016 Broadway show, Christopher Evans, and director Sari Ketter, who was assistant director for the Broadway show. Original Broadway director Bartlett Sher also dropped in on New York rehearsals and visited the tour in Fort Worth, where he watched the show and gave notes.

That was where Barenblat performed her first "Fiddler" show. About 20 of her family members made the five-plus-hour drive from San Antonio to see her do the show in Fort Worth that week.

To make the transition from one "Fiddler" cast to another, the new cast rehearsed for two weeks in New York and then spent more than a week in Dallas rehearsing by day and watching the first cast perform at night. Barenblatt said that transition experience in August was seamless.

The actress said she loves seeing different performance venues every week and enjoys travel days by bus or plane, when she gets to rest and hit the "reset" button.

"Feeling the audience's energy in different cities, it's really amazing how many 'Fiddler' fans we have in all these cities," she said. "Feeling a really different energy from these different audiences every place we go is really exhilarating and it keeps us on our toes, which is really fun."

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.