The company of the North American Tour of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Photo by Joan Marcus

When Jonathan Marro arrived at the University of Southern Maine to study piano, he got a job as an usher at the school’s concert hall. His first shift was during a performance of the play “Proof.”

“I loved it so much that the next night I came back and signed up for another usher slot,” he said. “I came and saw it again. I just was really falling in love with the storytelling on stage.”

Marro, 33, will return to Maine this week as the conductor for the Broadway National Tour of “Fiddler on the Roof,” presented by Portland Ovations at Merrill Auditorium on Friday and Saturday. A New Hampshire native, he said his experience at USM prompted him to pursue a career in musical theater.

Jonathan Marro, 33, will return to Maine as the conductor for the Broadway National Tour of “Fiddler on the Roof,” presented by Portland Ovations at Merrill Auditorium on Friday and Saturday. The New Hampshire native said his experience in USM’s Osher School of Music prompted him to pursue a career in musical theater. Photo by William Wilder

“It feels like home,” he said. “Those years at USM were very developmental in becoming who I am today.”

Marro grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire, and participated in a wide range of musical and athletic extracurricular activities. He found playing the piano helped him decompress after long days of classes and practices, and classical music became an outlet for him. His family already had a strong connection to music – his aunt had her own band, his grandmother was the choir director and organist at their church, and his father played trombone – but he became the first to pursue it as his career.

Laura Kargul, a music professor and director of keyboard studies at USM’s Osher School of Music, said Marro had only studied piano for four years before college, a short time compared to other students who choose that major. But he was motivated and talented, she said, and he had an aptitude for storytelling through music.


“I knew he had big dreams when he was in school, but he didn’t always talk about it,” said Kargul. “But he really believed in himself, and that quality of believing in yourself and having the discipline and the work ethic to realize that dream is rare.”

At the time, Marro didn’t know much about musical theater. But he was watching plays in his job as an usher, sometimes returning outside of work to watch his favorites again. So it felt like a natural progression for him to combine his interests in piano and drama by taking classes and working closely with Ed Reichert, a lecturer in musical theater.

Kelly Gabrielle Murphy (Tzeitel) and Daniel Kushner (Motel) in the North American Tour of Fiddler on the Roof. Photo by Joan Marcus

Marro interned at the Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick and was the associate music director for a production of “Spring Awakening” there. Reichert helped him get the position and was in the audience for the final run-through.

“I remember just being in tears, thinking, ‘Wow, OK, this kid’s ready,'” said Reichert. “He did a wonderful job, and I was so proud of him. He went off and pursued what he is doing now.”

Marro graduated from USM in 2012 with a degree in music and minors in theater and German, and immediately moved to New York City to pursue his career. He worked as an accompanist for singers and on shows across the region (including a production of “Shrek the Musical” at the Arundel Barn Playhouse). He joined an international tour for “Shrek” and then worked on productions of “Elf the Musical” and “Dirty Dancing” (a tour that also brought him to Merrill Auditorium in Portland). Then he had the opportunity to join this tour of “Fiddler on the Roof,” first as an associate accordion player for two years and then as the conductor for two years. In his current role, he leads the show “in both pacing and musical integrity,” he said.

Marro said “Fiddler on the Roof” tells a story that is important in history but also still feels relevant to the experience of refugees today, especially in relation to Russian aggression in Ukraine.


“It really feels like the continuation of a story that never seems to quite end or resolve, and in that way, it’s really humbling,” he said. “This story really touches a little deeper.”

Marro sound checking accordion mics before the show. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Marro

The tour will include three shows – one on Friday and two on Saturday – but Marro said he is looking forward to spending time in Portland with his company. They’ll probably go to Gelato Fiasco and Sebago Brewing Company, but he also said he hopes to introduce some members to their first lobster rolls.

The “Fiddler on the Roof” tour will end next month after four years, and Marro will have done more than 900 shows by that time.

“That’s a lot of ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ ” he said. “But I still really am excited by the show every day.”

He said he has a couple potential projects coming up next but can’t reveal them yet. Marro has stayed in touch with Kargul and Reichert from USM, and both plan to see “Fiddler.” They said they are proud of the career he has built and will continue to follow his work.

“He’s going as far as he wants to go beyond Anatevka,” said Reichert.

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