OLIVER!

A Twist of a Classic Tale

kai-edgarIf you want to enjoy the holiday spirit, there is no better place to go than to Marriott Theatre to see OLIVER! Marriott, who always seems to bring excellence to the theater with top-rated talent, once again does an incredible job with this electrifying production of OLIVER!

Charles Dickens introduced the world to Oliver Twist in his second novel in 1837 to 1839 in monthly installments. Marriott Theatre brings to the stage OLIVER, the British musical, and Oscar-winner for Best Picture, based on a dark tale of corruption and terror of unanticipated violence in degrading living conditions. Oliver Twist exposes the cruel treatment of orphans in London in the mid-19th century in his unromantic portrayal of criminals and their sordid lives. Dickens satirizes the hypocrisies in this social novel of its era, including child labor, and the presence to recruit street children to commit crimes.

For those who may have never read or seen OLIVER (surprisingly, there are still some), it's centered around a young orphan named Oliver Twist (Kai Edgar), who was born and lived at a workhouse. Oliver enrages the staff when he asks for a second bowl of gruel at the orphanage, and the head of the workhouse, Mr. Bumble (Matthew R. Jones), immediately sells him to an undertaker by the name of Mr. Sowerberry (Jason Grimm) as an apprentice.

Oliver decides to run away due to the cruelty that he has received at the funeral business. He meets a charming criminal by the name Artful Dodger (Patrick Scott McDermott), who belongs to a gang of child pickpockets led by a man named Fagin (William Brown). Fagin is a man who has been down on luck his entire life, which turns into a cunning professional criminal, who takes in homeless boys and teaches them to pickpockets for him.

cast-5Fagin welcomes him into the family of the band of thieves as his new apprentice thief. Unfortunately, upon Oliver trying to learn the tricks of his new trade, he is arrested for picking the pocket of wealthy Mr. Brownlow (Terry Hamilton), who takes an interest in him and brings him home.

Bill Sikes (Dan Waller), who is a murderous thief, works with Fagin and is one of his former successful pickpockets; he kidnaps Oliver to prevent him from giving away the details of their enterprise. When regrets hit Nancy (Lucy Godinez), who has taken to Oliver; she agrees to bring Oliver back to Mr. Brownlow. Bill gets wind of the plan, kills Nancy, and escapes with Oliver. A crowd gathers to bring Oliver back, and Bill is killed, and Oliver returned to Mr. Brownlow, who turns out to be his uncle.

Nick Bowling did a phenomenal job with this timeless story. The production was quite impressive, with an ensemble of 18 delightful children as orphans and thieves. The set and the costumes were amazing; however, it was the acting that pulled this production off from beginning to end. Starting and ending with the tiniest thief 'Oliver,' played by the very talented and adorable eight-year-old Kai Edgar (who rotates the role of the title character with Kayden Koshelev). Kai stoled the show, and although Kai, who performed in "Seussical" and "A Christmas Carol," recently started acting just a year ago, he is a natural and was very convincing as the down on his luck orphan who asked for more gruel.

Fabin and Bill Sikes gave some noteworthy performances as well. Starting with William Brown (Cabaret, Historylucy-godinez Loves Company) as Fabin, who took on his character as a villainous, yet humorous way; although he was an "evil" character his song (Reviewing the Situation) was charming and will make the audience smile. Then there was Dan Waller (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, All My Sons) as Bill Sikes, who was not amusing but scary, he pulled his villainous role off without a hitch, which can be a testament to his acting chops.

Another performance in this phenomenal play was done by Lucy Godinez (Footloose, Legally Blonde) as Nancy. Her acting along with her voice in her solo (As Long as He Needs Me) was incredible. Lucy personalizes Nancy and brings her struggles of love, commitment, and betrayal to life. Lucy brings an unforgettable special touch of passion to the character that will wow the audience. Lastly, the ever-efficient Bethany Thomas (Into the Woods, A Moon for The Misbegotten) did a splendid job as Mrs. Corney, the matron of the workhouse where Oliver was born who later marries Mr. Bumble. Bethany excels in any role she plays and will scare the pants off of any orphan.

matthew-r-jones-bethany-thomasThe musical version of this beloved tale, despite the dark overtone, is heartwarming and packed with memorable songs such as "Where Is Love," You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two" and "Consider Yourself." The group ensembles were excellent and enjoyable to watch, especially with the addition of kids in the opening number, in the orphanage performing "Food, Glorious Food."

Let's Play "Highly Recommends" that you take the trip out to Lincolnshire IL to see OLIVER the timeless musical that is perfect for every generation at Marriott Theatre!

Marriott Theatre Presents
OLIVER!
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Lionel Bart
Directed by Nick Bowling
Music Director Ryan T. Nelson
Choreographer by Brenda Didier
October 30 – December 29, 2019

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