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 Oliver! at Lancaster Performing Arts Center

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Kara
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Number of posts : 76
Location : Lancaster
Registration date : 2008-01-18

PostSubject: Oliver! at Lancaster Performing Arts Center   Mon May 12, 2008 10:48 am

All I can say is that if you missed Oliver!, then you missed out.

I don't know anyone in the cast or crew, so I have no motive to say anything nice about this show, but I'm going to anyway--LOTS.

Cedar Street Theatre presented Lionel Bart's Oliver!, directed by Barbara Coates, May 9-11. The musical is based on the classic novel "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens.

My six year-old daughter took me and my mom to see the Sunday, Mother's Day matinee at LPAC. The fact that the house was packed to the hilt should have been my first indication that we were in for a major treat. The second indication was the orchestra, nicely tuned, playing in time with the wonderful chorus of children during the well-choreographed opening number of "Food, Glorious Food". The deal was sealed when the boy playing Oliver clearly pronounced, with a very convincing English accent, "Please, Sir, I want some more." I settled into my seat as things went from great to absolutely awesome.

I should insert here that I'd like to credit the stellar performance of Oliver Twist to either L. Michael Wells, II or to Matthew Clark, since both are listed in the program as playing him (Wells as the main and Clark as the understudy, but it wasn't clear who was playing him during the Mother's Day matinee--I'm going to guess Wells, since there wasn't a note or an announcement made otherwise.) If someone knows differently please fill me in.

One of the most impressive elements of the show was the set. Designed by Mark Mewborne, the sectional set was like a Rubix-cube of sorts, with any number of configurations (and therefore locations) possible simply by turning and locking any number of pieces together with certain sides facing the audience. It's an old trick, yes, but still one of my favorites. I found myself at times wishing that the reconfiguration of the set was happening with stage lights up, rather than lights out, during scene changes. I'm sure other members of the audience would have been equally impressed. I'm a huge proponent of showing the audience how it's done--especially when the changes are done as well, as quickly, and as seamlessly as they were during this performance.

The drops used in this production were clearly professionally painted rentals depicting an old-London skyline and park, which is a gutsy move usually. Personally, I'd be very, very careful renting anything of that sort of professional caliber for a community production. I'd be nervous that the drop would look sorely out of place next to amateur costumes, set, lights, etc. Not the case here. The community-made elements more than held their own against the professionally rented ones.

And who knew such singing and acting talent existed here in our own community? There wasn't a weak link in the bunch. Particularly notable were Kara Slocum (Nancy)--what a set of pipes! and Marco Antonio Aguilar (Fagin). Aguilar did a fantastic job of bringing just the right amount of slime and sincerity to Fagin. John Evans (Mr. Bumble) was wonderful, particularly in the haunting "Boy For Sale". The rest of the cast did a fantastic job rounding out the show with volume, high energy, and great characterizations.

The only unfortunate downfall to the show were some mic problems (a huge pet peeve of mine), and were clearly not the fault of the performers. Toward the end of the second act Oliver lost his lavalier and it stood dangling at his feet as he tried to avoid stepping on it during the big number "Consider Yourself". Like a champ, this young boy didn't let it detract from the task at hand and he did his best to work around the problem until his next exit when he could have it fixed backstage. Similarly, Nancy lost her entire mic pack out of the back of her dress during the rousing "Oom-Pah-Pah", just before she goes into the audience to illicit singing from the whole house. I believe that everyone (including she, to a degree) was so distracted by her reaching up into the back of her dress to replace her mic pack that some of the momentum was unfortunately lost, and few people (except me) actually joined in the "oom-pah-pah' chorus.

Sound issues aside, it was unbelievably impressive. Some of you know that I recently returned from a trip to NYC with my daughter, where we took in a couple of Broadway shows (The Lion King and Mary Poppins). Admittedly, this show was not Broadway caliber, but in NO WAY was I at all disappointed by the comparison! This show could certainly have held its own in a larger community and drawn packed houses. I wish it was running another weekend. I would definitely have paid to see it a second time.



cheers
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James Jay
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PostSubject: Re: Oliver! at Lancaster Performing Arts Center   Wed May 14, 2008 10:07 am

I very much badly wanted to see this show! This was where my very first taste of theater came from, as I was Oliver when I was in the 6th grade. Imagine me singing "Where is Love?" lol! jocolor

I also wanted to try out for it, but I knew the show dates were conflicting with the Spotlight I had already committed to. That would have been full circle, huh? First as Oliver, then as Fagin or Sikes....ah well....

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Kara. Thanks for the great review. It brought back all my memories of that show

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