Neal Mayer prepares for his role as Fagin, as Tyler Felson (Oliver) and Nathan J. Russo (The Artful Dodger) look on.
When a scruffy, dirty-faced ragamuffin of an orphan has the audacity to ask, politely, for another bowl of gruel, his reward is to be booted out of his pitiful workhouse home and sold by Mr. Bumble (Michael Cartwright) and his soon-to-be wife the Widow Corney (Maureen Pollard). The lad finds himself in the employ of a Mr. Sowerberry (Robert Boardman) and his sour wife (Tara Michelle Gesling), the owners of a funeral parlor and made to be a child mourner following the caskets through the streets.
Have no fear, for the lad in question, one resourceful Oliver Twist, soon runs away and lands, for better or worse, in a den of enterprising thieves. The Ivoryton Playhouse will be picking your pockets and plucking your heartstrings as it presents “Oliver!” with music, lyrics and book by Lionel Bart, based on the Charles Dickens’ story until Sunday, September 2.
Set in England in the 1830’s, Dickens wanted to portray the sad fate of youngsters forced to earn a living in deplorable conditions, hoping to change the child labor laws.
Tyler Felson’s Oliver is adorable and is likely to steal your heart as well as your pocketbook. When he flees the funeral parlor, he is rescued by a clever lad the Artful Dodger (Nathan J. Russo) who introduces him to gang of thieves led by an enterprising and sinisterly charming Neal Mayer as Fagin who teaches Oliver how to “pick a pretty pocket or two.”
In Fagin’s den, Oliver meets the kind- hearted Nancy, a lovely Kimberly Morgan, and her evil hearted companion Bill Sykes, a terrifying T. J. Mannix who instills fear in all who cross his path. The troupe of young thieves takes Oliver in but he is soon caught in the act and his fate bounces around like a ping-pong ball in a fast game of table tennis. A compassionate Mr. Brownlow (Larry Lewis) gives Oliver a second chance but the long dark shadow of Bill Sykes looms large.
Thanks to an energetic and talented cast our spunky hero overcomes all obstacles, buying himself a beautiful morning and a wonderful life. R. Bruce Connolly does a fine job “reviewing the situation” with a crafty and clever hand as director. Be aware that there are many dark moments that may be inappropriate for young children.
For tickets ( $40 adults, $35 seniors, $20 students and $15 children), call the Playhouse at 860-767-7318 or visit the website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m.and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton. On Wednesdays August 15, 22 and 29, Food, Glorious Food will be featured before the performance. Come early for music, food and wine in the tent.
Join Oliver Twist in a London of more than a century and a half ago as he learns the fine art of being a thief from the master himself, Fagin, and his right hand boy The Artful Dodger.