Wednesday, October 13, 2010

There’s never enough ‘Oliver!’

St. Thomas Playhouse to present the musical ‘Oliver!’


By SABINA DANA PLASSE
Express Staff Writer

Photo by Heather Black St. Thomas Playhouse presents “Oliver!” at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum Oct. 14-17. A gala benefit for the H. Edward Bilkey Memorial Scholarship Fund will take place on Friday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m.

A poor orphan boy in Victorian London is the subject of Charles Dickens' well-known novel "Oliver Twist," which has been adapted for stage as the musical "Oliver!" The story follows the adventure of a little boy searching for more than just a handout.

The production has several familiar faces, including Dawson Howard as Mr. Bumble and Steve D' Smith as Fagin, but the real stars are the double cast of kids who play in the show.

"It's a big ensemble cast with lots of interaction between people," said director Sara Gorby. "Everyone knows the story of 'Oliver Twist,' the movie and the musical. It's a dark story with an underlying theme of finding hope and family."

Gorby said everyone is searching for more and the character of Oliver wants more than just food.

"What amazes me about Oliver is that he is the light in every scene in which he is present," Gorby said. "No matter what is thrown at him, he is resilient and compassionate. Ultimately he finds more with his once lost and then found family."

The double cast production of more than 70 people has two Oliver characters, played by Beck Vontver and Lexi Black. Charles Bates is played by Kinley Miler and Kenny Pratt, and Bet is played by Lucy Brannon and Cherice Tatterson. A double cast also fills out the many Workhouse Boys and Fagin's Establishment.

< Assistant to the director Kristy Kuntz is also the show's stage manager and production coordinator. Music direction is by Dick Brown, assisted by Dorinda Rendahl. Choreography is by Sherry Horton and Sara Gorby.

"This is awesome," said Vontver, who plays one of the Oliver Twists. "I love it. I love all the scenes but my favorite is running around the table singing 'Oliver' and falling on the floor."

The show has many underlying tones, which include child labor issues, poverty issues and class struggles.

"It's timeless," Gorby said. "St. Thomas Playhouse has done 'Crazy for You' and 'The Secret Garden.' It was time to do a show with lots of children."

The production of "Oliver" is about the sense of a family, which is mirrored by the cast and crew of St. Thomas Playhouse as they have all become close in rehearsal and understanding the show.

"Some find it, some don't and some keep on searching," Gorby said. "When I think of family, I am reminded of what Buddha said, 'A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another.'"

Sabina Dana Plasse: splasse@mtexpress.com

Play bill

What: St. Thomas Playhouse presents "Oliver!"

Where: nexStage Theatre in Ketchum.

When: Thursday, Oct 14, through Sunday, Oct. 17. Show times are 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A gala benefit for the H. Edward Bilkey Memorial Scholarship Fund will have a reception at 6 p.m. on Friday.

Cost: Tickets are $20 adults and $10 children on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for the gala benefit on Friday are $50 for reserved seating, $30 general seating and $10 for children. For tickets, call 726-5349, ext. 15.




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