Scott Willits c. Scott Willits.JPEG

Orono graduate Scott Willits is returning to Minnesota as a member of the cast of the Fiddler of Roof that is performing at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12. (Photos courtesy Scott Willits)

One year ago, 2009 Orono High School graduate Scott Willits was tending bar at Carbone’s in Long Lake and wondering if he would ever get back on stage.

On Tuesday, Nov. 30, Willits returns to Minnesota, but this time he will be on stage at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts in St. Paul performing in the Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“I’m stoked. For me, it’s the best break in my career. It’s a wonderful production and I love it,” Willits said. “That’s exciting for me because I wanted to have a few speaking parts. It’s a great part, it’s exactly what I wanted and needed. It’s a small step for me becoming an actor.”

Willits is a member of the cast of “Fiddler on the Roof” production that will make 50 stops around the country. The national tour began on Oct. 26 in Georgia, and will continue until June 22, 2022, when the tour ends in Dayton, Ohio.

“Fiddler on the Roof” National Tour is directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher and choreographed by the acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter.

Willits. who has the roles of Nachum and Yussell. in “Fiddler on the Roof” was in Atlanta last week and is in Madison, Wis., this week before coming to St. Paul on Nov. 30 for 16 shows at the Ordway through Dec. 12.

“It’s pretty hectic but its great,” Willits said between rehearsals in Atlanta. “It is great getting back out on the road again. Things are going well, people are coming out to the show and it’s great hearing the reaction from the crowds again.”

Willits didn’t know if he would ever get back on the road after he joined the “Fiddler on the Roof” National Tour in July 2019.

He toured the country with the production from July 2019 until March 2020, when - just like everything else in the country - the production shut down because of COVID-19. He was in Kansas City at the time.

“I was like, ‘Is this real?’” Willits said. “‘Okay, I guess I have a couple weeks off. My body hurts, I’ll have time to recover and will be back in a couple weeks.’”

A couple weeks turned into a couple months and even longer.

Willits moved back to his childhood home in Long Lake and wondered what to do with his life now that dancing, acting and performing were on hold because of the pandemic.

“I was very happy to be with my family for a bit and taking a break,” he said. “It was a blessing in disguise to have a break. But that went away because I needed a career. It was difficult.”

He kept himself busy and in shape waiting for the call that the tour was back on.

“I became a bartender at Carbone’s in Long Lake, taught dance at WestMet Classical Training, assisted my younger sister who has Down Syndrome with her zoom dance classes at Lundstrom Performing Arts Center and had the opportunity to perform and choreograph this past August in St. Paul,” Willits said. “And I kept up with my photography and dance film creations. I found all these little things that kept me going at the same time you were always wondering when its going to open and get started again. I didn’t even know if I was going to go back to ‘Fiddler.’”

Finally, the call came that the production was back on and Willits returned to “Fiddler on the Roof” and had to quickly get back in the mindset of dancing and performing for a national production.

“It’s been a relief being back,” he said. “It’s like riding a bike, but there definitely are the mental challenges to it. Your body is like, w’What are you doing to me.?’ I’m super grateful to be able to get back into the swing of things.”

From an early age, Willits and his family knew he wanted to be dancer and performer.

According to Willits, he would mimic his older sister, Kelsey’s, dance moves when she was performing and that’s when his mother put him in dance class.

The performing bug stuck with Willits and he has been dancing, signing, acting and performing ever since that first dance class in the first grade.

He grew up dancing at Summit Dance Shoppe in Plymouth while studying in an accredited peer-professional program at while in high school called Summit Invitational created by Linda Muir Finney.

From there he went to The Ailey School and Fordham University and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance in New York. After college, he’s worked professionally with Nimbus Dance Works, based in Jersey City, New Jersey; Elisa Monte Dance (now known as Emerge125) in New York; and Earl Mosely’s Diversity of Dance as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, social media coordinator/photographer.

He’s also worked with Ryan Heffington, a well known choreographer, as a model/dancer in Kenzo x H&M’s high fashion show in New York.

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