BWW Review: OLIVER! at Signature Productions
Signature Productions [Quality Family Entertainment] is a local Production Company that does open calls to the community for their actors for the shows they produce. This time they decided to produce Lionel Bart'S OLIVER! OLIVER! is one of the cannon from early Broadway first produced in the West End opening in 1960 and continuing to Broadway in 1962. It is not a Disney-esque show. It does have a somber feel to it, with some lighthearted moments. There are many songs that you may know from this musical. The first song is "Food Glorious Food" and I recognized it from a french fry commercial that aired in England in the early 2000's. But I had seen the move version before that commercial so I had heard the song even before that.
The musical is based on the book Oliver Twist written by Charles Dickens. It is the story of an orphan who has traveled to London to try to find fame and fortune. But from the opening number of "Food Glorious Food" we begin to understand that Oliver is in an orphanage workhouse. The orphans are fed gruel and not very much of it, especially for young growing boys. Oliver has the famous line "Please Sir, I'd like some more." This gets him in trouble and so the Beadle, Mr. Bumble takes Oliver to sell him off so he will not have to deal with his insolence or worrying that it will spread to other orphans.
At this point we have seen the set with the workhouse and it is a well constructed set. The different types of wood and the cream color made the set versatile and reflected many of the buildings I had seen in England when I lived there. I was not taken somewhere else by the set. It was in parts on wagons so it could be spun around and moved from stage left to stage right. It was a brilliant use of the small stage that they had. Kudos to Stan Judd.
Mr. Brumble sells Oliver to the undertakers. He was to be the junior mourner since he had such an unusual sad expression. He, being a poor orphan in 1837-39, is poorly treated. The apprentice was cruel to Oliver and insulted his mother. Oliver defends his mother's honor and he is threatened with violence. He runs away to escape the violence and is found by Artful Dodger and the gang.
Artful Dodger [played by both Emily Anzell and Ridge Bawden] invites Oliver to "Consider Yourself at Home" and Oliver is accepted into the gang of thieves not really knowing what they do. Oliver is a young gentleman and a bit shy and reserved. The complete opposite of the Artful Dodger who is brass and street smart.
By this time in the production we have heard many solos and lots of chorus. You get the idea that the singing is on par. Everyone has a great voice. Oliver has a pure voice, Mr. Bumble's voice is rich, Artful Dodger [Ridge Bawden] had a fun tone, and Mr. Fagin was a bright tenor which suited his character. As more characters and more singing began, we knew they would be good from those who set the tone already. There were just a few minor misses with the microphone cues, but they were so minor I do not think that many in the audience noticed. It is difficult to follow that many microphones.
Nancy is the next character to sing, she sings "It's a Fine Life." with Fagin's Gang. We come to find that Nancy is loyal to a fault. She is in love with Bill Sikes and he is a dastardly dude. He steals higher end items and the audience gets the impression that he would not feel bad if he killed someone while he was thieving. But Nancy loves him and will stick with him as long as he needs her. Even though you can tell he beats her.
Well, Oliver gets caught on his first jaunt out with the gang to "Pick a pocket or two". In court, the gentleman who had his wallet stolen wanted to make amends as his wallet was not found on Oliver, so he took him in to his home.
Being a theatre professional myself, I did notice that the theatre was not well set up for front lighting. There were a few dark spots on the stage, but that is more the fault of the facility than the fault of the lighting designer, Keannak Parvaz. The spot light operator was using what is referred to as an intelligent light, so most likely using a joystick rather than controlling a physical spotlight [At least that is my guess]. After noticing that, Loren Lourenco did a great job of following the actors around.
The end has a plot twists, a scary scene, a melancholy scene, and an act of karma. I don't want to spoil anything else if you have not yet seen it, because it would be a good show to go see. Do not expect to be tapping your toes as you walk out the door, but you will feel like you had a really good evening.
Dates: October 24 - November 18, 2017
Summerlin Library & Performing Arts Center
Days/Times: Shows are at 7:30pm with two Saturday matinees at 2pm on Nov 4th & 18th. Shows run multiple days per week; dark every Sunday.
Duration: 2.5 hours including intermission
Ticket Pricing: $30 for adults, $28 for seniors & students, $20 for children 6-12