The boy who asked for more, Oliver, and an entourage of orphans, miscreants, and other colourful characters from 19th century London will on stage at The ACT next week, brought together by the local amateur musical theatre troupe.
Oliver! is one of the largest productions put on by SPECC-tacular Productions, which specializes in musical theatre.
“It’s a lot more complex than [previous productions]... but it’s coming together,” said Ed Marshall, president of the amateur theatre company and co-director of Oliver!
Adapted from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, the Broadway musical is about a boy, Oliver, who runs away from an orphanage and hooks up with a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by a con artist, Fagin, where he meets the artful Dodger and Nancy.
When Oliver goes on his first pick-pocketing job, he is caught by the police. He soon realizes that neither he nor Nancy is fit for a life of crime. The man that Oliver robbed, Mr. Brownlow, learns of his sad past and brings him into his own home.
The production stars Chris Foster as Fagin, Su Wolf as Nancy, Avery Pauls as Oliver, Samuel Watkins as the Artful Dodger and Steve Bradley as Bill Sykes, along with a cast of more than 40.
The production includes 30 children and Marshall said SPECC-tacular likes to make it a teaching experience for the young people, so they learn things like voice projection.
Marshall said the musical theatre group’s aim is to put on as professional a production as possible with a completely amateur cast and crew. No one is paid for their participation.
SPECC-tacular receives grants from the Rotary club and the arts council, but the rest of their money comes from ticket sales and fundraising.
This is the first big Broadway musical SPECC-tacular is staging, and it comes with copyright limitations, Marshall said, for example, what kind of sets they need.
The sets for this production are the biggest the group has made, and there a lot of elaborate set changes.
“It’s a great story and great music,” Marshall said.
Wolfe and Marshall are co-directing the musical and they both play a part in it. The musical director is Trish Liversidge and choreographer Susan Mitchell from the Maple Ridge Dance Circle. The sets were designed by Marshall and Pauline De Silva and the costumes were created by Julie Milroy.
SPECC-tacular Productions will put on Oliver! next week and then Sleeping Beauty at Christmas.
In the spring, they are planning a smaller show perhaps incorporating a fashion show as a fundraiser.
SPECC-tacular Productions presents Oliver! at the ACT, from Sept. 18 to 23. From Tuesday to Saturday the show is at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, a matinee performance will be at 2:30 p.m. and Sunday’s matinee is at 1 p.m.