Summers said he's lived a lot. He's struggled, faced lost and seen his fair share of change.
Summers got into professional acting while living in Wichita, Kan., in the late 1970s, right after he quit college. He worked in a dinner theater for about three years, but in the mid-1980s decided to enlist in the army, where he spent the next 12 1/2 years.
"I did three shows while I was in the army, but for 11 years, I had nothing," he said.
He missed acting, but the army was good to him. It broadened his horizons. He worked as a broadcast journalist and saw a lot of the world.
"I was in Germany, Haiti, Honduras, Kuwait -- all kinds of places."
In the late 1990s, he left the military and picked up his studies at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, where he also got back into theater. It was first through student productions, and then later, he got a job with the Cape Fear Regional Theater in Fayetteville, N.C.
"That got my foot in the door," he said.
From there, Summers bounced back and forth between professional productions and student shows, supplementing his income with the usual actor day jobs. He waited tables. He sold cars.
"I delivered pizzas for a while," he said. "I even got robbed at gunpoint one time."
He also got divorced and earned his degree.
Summers said during the past several years he's been working in theater pretty steadily.
"I'm finally where I want to be, 30 years later," he said.
He added, "What is really appealing to me about a character like Tevye is that he goes through the highest highs and the lowest lows, but there's always that bit of enduring hope."
It's one of the reasons "Fiddler on the Roof" resonates.
"Also, Tevye is a bit of a smartass."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.