'Oliver!' Comes to Wallman Hall Stage

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Fairmont State University Masquers and Town & Gown theatre groups will produce the second show of the season, "Oliver!" Performances are planned for Nov. 16-18 and Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. in the Wallman Hall Theatre.

For tickets, call the Box Office at (304) 367-4240. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for seniors and $6 for students with ID.

The production's music, lyrics and book were written by Lionel Bart. The show was produced for the Broadway stage by David Merrick and Donald Albery. The director will be Dr. Francene Kirk.

The Fairmont State production will feature the following performers: John E. O'Connor (Fagin), Jason A. Young (Bumble), Jeffrey Ingman (Bill Sykes), Sarah Rowan (Nancy), Linda O'Connor (Widow Corney), Patrick Sibbett (The Artful Dodger), Colin M. Frosh (Noah Claypole), Kathy Dunn (Mrs. Sowerberry) and Brandon Bloomfield (Mrs. Sowerberry), among others. The leading role of Oliver will be portrayed by Brady Dunn, who, although very young, has become a staple actor at FSU, having performed in such past productions as "Honk!," "The Music Man," "Seussical: The Musical," and, most recently, this summer's "The Sound of Music." Both John O'Connor and Ingman are professors in the FSU Theatre Department. Dr. Jim Matthews of the FSU English Department will be the dramaturg. Kirk appeared in the play in the 1990 Fairmont State production. Several of the cast members of that production are also in the current one, including John Fallon and John Piscitelli.

"The play is about a child sent to the work house where he utters the most famous line of the show: "Please sir, I want some more," which has recently been heard in a TV commercial for wireless phones," Kirk said.

"When the show was first on Broadway in the '60s, it was one of several shows criticized for dealing with a rather dark subject in musical format. Critics said 'people shouldn't be singing and dancing to something as serious as the plot from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist.' But now a lot of dark literary subjects have been made into Broadway musicals, like Les Miserables. The goal of this show is to entertain the audience without making light of the serious subjects of poverty, hunger and child labor."

In 1962-'63, the show won three Tony Awards for Composer and Lyricist, Conductor and Musical Director and Scenic Designer. "OLIVER!" was first presented in London, where it played for 2,618 performances at the New Theatre. It played for 774 performances on Broadway at the Imperial and Shubert Theatres, starring Georgia Brown and Clive Revill as Nancy and Fagin. It has been revived on Broadway several times, as in 1984 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, and in London in 1994 at the Palladium starring Jonathan Pryce as Fagin.