BWW PREVIEW: Elements Theatre Company to Present OLIVER! for a Limited Run
Based on Charles Dicken's classic novel Oliver Twist and featuring such easily-recognizable songs like "As Long as He Needs Me" and "Consider Yourself," Oliver! is soon to be presented by Orleans' very own Elements Theatre Company. The beloved musical, which originally premiered in London in 1960, now has yet another chance to warm our hearts by bringing this young orphan from Victorian England to a Cape Cod stage. With music and lyrics by Lionel Bart and directed by Danielle Dwyer, CJ, Oliver! is a show that not only entertains the entire family, but has such a significant message to share that spans across past generations and those to come: love brings us true happiness, and Oliver's search for those who will love him will tug on the heartstrings just a bit - at least those attending the already sold-out performance this coming Saturday think so!
With one of the most familiar scores of all time, Oliver! takes our young orphan from the confines of the workhouse to Central London, where he seeks with undying hope those he can call his family. Dickens actually drew on his own life experiences as the basis of Oliver's arduous journey. As the oldest son, he started working at the age of twelve to provide for those who relied on him; the rest of his family was locked away for debts they couldn't repay. Not finding much joy in his life of perpetual work and worry, and writing on behalf of those who suffered in a similar way, Dickens envisioned the corruption of the poor in London as as a kind of "fog" that pervaded through his city.
As Dwyer explains, "[Dickens] described this fog as something that covered what was good and true - that which brought light to a soul's eyes."
And so he wrote. With the poor's plight intensified by characters like Fagin and Bill Sikes, Dickens characterizes this fog by bringing the issue of character morale in to the picture. When faced with the reality of a life made worthwhile through the means of theft and violence, does the idea of love morph into something much more practical? Dwyer asks audience to think about what love really means by introducing a pinch of reality into Oliver's search those who will finally love him.
"This is at the heart of "Oliver!". [Dickens] shows us that it is not just one type of person or character that fails in love. It seems that Dickens asks the question: how do we care for those around us, looking past what will benefit us, to what will enrich their life and raise their level of living?"
Dwyer's stance is something to think about in the midst of characters who must live a certain way in order to survive. Does that define them as good or bad, or simply those who have found a way to make life more bearable? Can they be blamed for this? Dwyer describes this as a sort of "mirror' to how others outside of our own realm of existence live - a "wider and bigger picture of the world around us."
It is such a fascinating way of viewing the world, and joining Oliver on his quest to discover his own meaning of love in something no less beautiful. Everyone should hear Oliver's story at least once, and what better time than to fulfill a dream perhaps you've had for quite some time?
Bring the entire family to see Elements Theatre Company's production of Oliver! and take advantage of the wonderful summer theater Cape Cod has to offer. This is a strictly limited run from August 23rd-25th, and will be in performances at the Paraclete House (5 Bay View Drive) in Orleans. Tickets are $35, $30 for seniors and free for students and youth under 18. To purchase, please call (508) 240-2400, visit elementstheatre.org or purchase at the door. The performance schedule is as follows: August 23rd and 24th at 7:30 pm and August 25th at 3:00 pm.
Enjoy the show!
Photo Credit: Elements Theatre Company