The Cardinal Stage Company once again brightens the often quiet holiday season with a very accomplished and involving production of Lionel Bart’s "Oliver!" in performances at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre.
Director Randy White, choreographer Christine O’Grady and a dynamic set by Gordon Strain with costumes by Alexandra Morphet have produced a fast moving, dynamic stage spectacle with plenty of action and dozens of memorable characters from the Dickens classic.
Cameron MacKay was a wispily clear voiced angelic Oliver. Cameron Butler, ably partnered him as the colorful Artful Dodger. Joss Marsh was the comical Widow Cory wooed by Jon Clough as the Beedle, Mr. Bumble. Robert Hay-Smith whether leading his gang in lessons on picking a pocket or reviewing his situation was a memorable Fagin. Mira Popkin-Tarack held the stage as the sympathetic Nancy. The usual acme of pleasantness Mike Price was truly frightening as the brutal burglar Bill Sykes.
These are just a few of the large cast. It’s truly a community group with local kids from elementary, middle and high schools, a sprinkling of collegians and academics, and then a variety too hard to describe except as a sort of community quilt of talents.
Just one thoughtful note… Remember "Annie," another musical about an orphan in hard times. Well, the signature song of that show is the assertively optimistic "The Sun Will Come up Tomorrow." . It’s parallel in "Oliver!" isn’t quite so much a signature of the show, but it’s "Who Will Buy this Beautiful Morning?" Lionel Bart’s "Oliver!" is also full of those perky songs and endearing little moppets, but it is true as well to the darkness of Dickens’ vision
John Berst is the music director.The vocal and instrumental performances in "Oliver!" are all strong. In an era of shows with accompaniment reduced to synthesizers, the "Oliver!" ensemble is wecomely acoustic with piano a full complement of winds, strings and percussion.
The Cardinal Stage Company’s production of "Oliver!" at he Buskirk-Chumley Theatre continues with performances Friday at seven, Saturday and Sunday at two and seven and on Monday the 31st a special three o’clock show followed with an early New Year’s Eve party for all.