By Craig Williams, Family Community Theatre
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Family Community Theatre is proud to present Lionel Bart’s Oliver!. The musical is adapted from the Charles Dickens classic, Oliver Twist. The plot of Dickens’s original novel is considerably simplified for the purposes of the musical, with Fagin being represented more as a comic character than as a villain, and large portions of the latter part of the story being completely left out. Many of the musical numbers will be familiar to the audience including – “Food, Glorious Food,” “Consider Yourself,” “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two,” “I’d Do Anything,” and “As Long as He Needs Me.”
Even though the show is based on a story written nearly 190 years ago and first performed on Broadway in 1963, the show still enjoys popularity. This calendar year it will appear in theatres stretching from California to Massachusetts. It provides an opportunity to utilize a number of young actors/actresses, many of whom have significant roles.
The musical opens in the workhouse, as the half-starved orphan boys are entering the enormous dining hall for supper. They are fed only gruel, but find some solace by imagining a richer menu (“Food Glorious Food”). Oliver gathers up the courage to ask for more, and is immediately apprehended by parish beadle, Mr. Bumble and the Widow Corney, the heartless and greedy caretakers of the workhouse. Mr. Bumble then takes Oliver and sells him as an apprentice to an undertaker.
The next morning, Noah Claypole, another employee of Mr. Sowerberry, insults Oliver’s dead mother, whereupon Oliver begins pummeling him. Mrs. Sowerberry and her daughter, Charlotte, who is also Noah’;s girlfriend, run in. The three lock Oliver inside a coffin, and Mr. Bumble is sent for.
The entrance of an intoxicated Mr. Sowerberry doesn’t aid matters, and during all the commotion Oliver escapes. After a week on the run, he ends up in the city of London and meets a boy about his age known as the Artful Dodger. Dodger seems a kindly boy and welcomes Oliver to join him and his friends. Dodger is, unknown to Oliver, a pickpocket, and invites Oliver to come and live in Fagin’s lair. Fagin is a veteran criminal “fence” who sends out young boys as pickpockets. Oliver is completely unaware of any criminality and believes that the boys make handkerchiefs rather than steal them. Oliver is introduced to Fagin and his boys and taught their ways.
The next day, Oliver meets Nancy, an older member of Fagin’s gang and the girlfriend of Fagin’s terrifying associate Bill Sikes, a brutal house-burglar whose abuse she endures because she loves him. Nancy, along with her good friend Bet and the boys sing about how they mostly like their unconventional if dangerous lifestyle.
Oliver is sent out with the other boys on his first pickpocketing job. Fagin tells Oliver to go with Dodger and another boy named Charley Bates, but when Dodger and Charley steal a handkerchief from Mr. Brownlow, a wealthy old man, they run off, leaving the horrified Oliver to be arrested for the crime.
Dodger runs in and tells Fagin about Oliver’s capture and removal to the Brownlow household. Worried that Oliver will betray the gang to the authorities, Fagin and Bill decide to abduct Oliver and bring him back to the den, with Nancy’s help. Nancy, who has come to care for Oliver, at first refuses to help, but Bill physically abuses her and forces her into obedience. In spite of this, Nancy still loves Bill and believes he loves her, too.
Mr. Brownlow and Dr. Grimwig decide that Oliver is well enough to go outside, so Brownlow sends Oliver to return some books to the bookseller. Nancy and Bill appear and grab Oliver. They bring him back to Fagin’s den, where Nancy saves Oliver from a beating from Sikes after the boy tries to flee.
Back at the workhouse, Mr. Bumble and the Widow Corney, now unhappily married, are told by the dying pauper Old Sally that Oliver’s mother, Agnes, left a gold locket when she died in childbirth. Old Sally had stolen the locket, which she gives to the Widow Corney before she dies. Mr. and Mrs. Bumble realize that Oliver may have wealthy relatives and visit Mr. Brownlow (who has advertised for news of Oliver), hoping to profit from any reward given for information. Mr. Brownlow realizes they are not interested in Oliver’s welfare but only money and throws them out. Recognizing the picture inside the locket as a picture of his daughter, he realizes that Oliver is actually his grandson.
Nancy visits Mr. Brownlow, explains how she and Bill abducted Oliver, and remorsefully promises to deliver Oliver to him safely that night on London Bridge but refuses to give up her fellow gang members. Suspecting Nancy, Bill follows her as she sneaks Oliver out of Fagin’s den. At London Bridge, he confronts them and viciously clubs Nancy to death. He then grabs Oliver and runs off. Mr. Brownlow arrives and discovers Nancy’s body. Bill appears on the bridge, holding Oliver as hostage and threatening to kill him. Two policemen sneak up on him, and one of them shoots Bill while the other grabs Oliver. Oliver is reunited with Mr. Brownlow. Fagin appears and decides that the time has never looked better for him to straighten out his life.
Playwright – Best known for creating the book, music and lyrics for Oliver!, Bart was described by Andrew Lloyd Webber as “the father of the modern British musical.” In 1963 he won e Tony Award for Best Original Score for Oliver!, and the 1968 film version of the musical won a total of 6 Academy Awards including the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Music – The music was transcribed by Eric Rogers. Bart hummed the melodies and Rogers wrote the notes on his behalf as Bart could not read or write music.
The Family Children’s Theatre production has a cast of 48. Our actors come from 4 different communities –Buhler, Haven, Hutchinson, Sterling. There are 7 actors/actresses appearing with the Family Community Theatre mainstage for the first time. It is the goal of the FCT to provide persons the opportunity to find out more about themselves through the vehicle of acting. We strive to bring the community together by opening our organization to anyone who would like to take part. Both goals are key to the FCT’s mission of being an influential organization in our community and surrounding area.
Character – Actor
- Mr. Bumble – Nicholas Ameloza
- Workhouse Boy, Townsperson – Emma Anderson
- Workhouse Matron, Townsperson – Susan Bacon
- Workhouse Boy, Charles Bates – Samuel Basgall
- Oliver Twist – Benjamin Blakley
- Artful Dodger – Esther Blakley
- Workhouse Boy, Pickpocket – Rylynn Carey
- Workhouse Boy, Captain – Rohn Chapman
- Workhouse Boy, Townsperson – Amara Dugnolle
- Workhouse Boy, Townsperson – Eliya Dugnolle
- Workhouse Boy, Townsperson – Leah Foos
- Workhouse Boy, Townsperson – Kellan Fortner
- Hussar – Kent Gajewski
- Mr. Sowerberry, Townsperson – Nicholas Hockett
- Workhouse Worker, Townsperson – Cheryl Jerome
- Mr. Brownlow – Levi Julian
- Fagin – Lee Keele
- Milkmaid, Townsperson – Savannah Keele
- Townsperson – Zoe Keele
- Workhouse Boy, Pickpocket – Derek Kelly
- Townsperson – Leah Kelly
- Governor, Townsperson – Rachel Kelly
- Workhouse Boy, Pickpocket – James Koontz
- Mrs. Sowerberry, Townsperson – Jeanne Koontz
- Maid, Workhouse Boy, Pickpocket – Alexa Lewis
- Mrs. Bedwin, Townsperson – Elaine Lowder
- Governor Old Sally, Townsperson, Strawberry Seller – Melinda Lucia
- Rose Seller, Townsperson – Michaela Lucia
- Noah Claypole, Bow Street Runner – Silas Nowlan
- Workhouse Boy, Pickpocket – Camden Osner
- Workhouse Boy, Pickpocket – Kailey Osner
- Workhouse Boy, Townsperson – Bristol Perez
- Nurse Grimwig, Townsperson – Wendy Pope
- Governor, Townsperson – Mary Roensch
- Workhouse Boy, Pickpocket, Book Boy – Ryan Rounds
- Townsperson – Amy Sallee
- Workhouse Boy, Pickpocket – Jordyn Schnable
- Nancy – Kari Torline
- Workhouse Boy, Lamplighter, Townsperson – Jonathan Trammel
- Widow Corney – Catherine Vessey
- Charlotte, Townsperson – Bella Voss
- Governor, Townsperson – Stacy Voss
- Bet, Townsperson – Beck Wells
- Workhouse Boy, Pickpocket – Chase Wells
- Bill Sikes – Justin Widmer
- Workhouse Boy, Pickpocket – Maisy Wilk
Craig Williams directs the play with assistance from Mary Kay Dechant. Music direction is provided by Angela Huck and the orchestra will be directed by Ben Jones. The choreography is under the direction of Nicholas Amezola and Emily Wood. The publicity posters were created by
Savanna Burt. Rob Garrett leads the set design and construction. Shannan McPike and Terri Oyler are organizing props. Janice Wood is in charge of ticketing and the house. David Adcock provides the lighting direction. April Basgall is in charge of costuming. Janice Hoppes and Katie Osner take care of the makeup. Josh Davis is running sound.
The productions for the 36th season will be announced at the production.
For more information concerning the production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! contact Craig Williams, 620-727-7194 or cwilliams62@ cox.net.
The production of the Family Community Theatre will be Puffs, April 18-21, 2024. Auditions will be held at the Flag Theatre, Friday, February 23 and Saturday, February 24.