Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Oliver"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bay Colony Productions' current show is "Oliver" the musical, based on Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Set in Victorian England the story is about a young orphan named Oliver Twist who asks for seconds of the gruel served at the workhouse. The repercussions from this act include finding himself sold into service at a funeral parlor for five pounds and then ends up learning how to pick pockets with Fagin and his gang of thieves where he meets the lovely barmaid, Nancy who is torn between her love for a criminal, Bill Sykes and her desire to do the right thing. Director Steve Dooner casts 64 people in this show ranging in age from 7-70 and all of them can act, sing and dance up a storm while musical director Rob Goldman and his nine piece orchestra supply a sumptuous sound to excellent singing voices and choreographer Dori Bryan creates many wonderful dance numbers for the whole cast which are executed brilliantly. The choral sound of the children's chorus soars to the rafters and the power of a superb show result in a standing ovation at curtain call.

Steve blocks his performers wonderfully and obtains a high level of acting from them at the same time. His knowledge of Dickens clear picture of life in those stark times comes through and is softened by the music and comedy of this show. The quartet in "Who Will Buy" singing the intricate harmonies is fantastic and Rob not only taught them their parts but gets the whole cast to shine in their group numbers, too. The kids in "Food Glorious Food" are outstanding and the energetic dance created by Dori adds to its excellence. The hornpipe segment in "It's a Fine Life" and the minuet segment in "I'd Do Anything" are some of the clever dances she incorporates into this show. Daniel Kozar designed multitude of costumes by adding color and vitality to them for this huge cast as well as designing the set with Mike Teixeira who also is the stage manager and technical director. Historically appropriate props are gathered by the hard working props mistress, Gail Gilman. Kudos to a job well done.

12 year old Sean Gearin is perfect as Oliver. He not only looks the part but he has a gorgeous boy soprano voice which he uses in "Where Is Love" which moves the audience to tears, in "I'd Do Anything" and in "Who Will Buy". Sean is a wonderful actor and dancer, too and is extremely talented for a boy his age. The Artful Dodger is played by 13 year old Sam Wartenberg who is a human dynamo in this role. His cockney accent and delivery as this mischievous youth are superb and he gets to show off his strong singing voice in "Consider Yourself", "I'd Do Anything" and "Be Back Soon". However the biggest scene stealer in this show is Nathan Lamont as Fagin. His hilarious portrayal as the thieving gang leader is perfect as he teaches Oliver how to steal handkerchiefs and as he counts his ill gotten booty hidden in the wall. His two big numbers, "Pick a Pocket" and "I'm Reviewing the Situation" are showstoppers with his dancing up a storm while singing them.

The most poignant portrayal is by Chrissy Fresco as Nancy. She breaks your heart with her rendition of "As Long as He Needs Me" and makes you laugh with her antics in "Oom-Pah-Pah" and "It's a Fine Life". Chrissy's acting is superb especially when she stands up to the dastardly Bill Sykes trying to protect Oliver, paying for it with her life.The chilling portrayal of this unredeemable cad is by Bill Stambaugh. He frightens the hell out of the audience with his song "My Name" and deserved to be booed by the crowd for doing a topnotch job as this horrible creature. Bill is an award winning actor who does a believable job in any role he plays. Another comic pair of performers in this show are Chris DiOrio and Laura DesMarais as Mr. and Mrs. Bumble. Chris' tenor voice soars in "Boy For Sale" and he and Laura are hoots in "I'll Shall Scream" where Bumble pursues her to marry him with her jump over a love seat. They are also hilarious in Act 2 where she beats the crap out of him after he insults her.

Other comic characters include Tyler Anderson as the bossy, obnoxious Noah Claypool, Rebecca Griffing as Charlotte, the yelling rude daughter of the Sowerberry's who are played by Carol Kingsbury who makes her a shrew to reckon with and Bill McKay as her henpecked funeral director hubby, Nancy's best friend, Bet, played by Katie Miller who shows off her strong voice in "I'd Do Anything", Bill Roberts as Oliver's grandfather, Skip Bridges as the addled Dr. Grimwig and Holly Steel as Mrs. Bedwin who gets to sing the reprise of "Where Is Love". The chorus singing and dancing are fabulous, giving this show the rousing energy and power to make it a great show. So for an entertaining trip back to Merry Old England, be sure to catch, "Oliver" in Foxboro and you will see that Foxboro theater is as topnotch as their football team.

"Oliver" (4 - 20 November)
Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA
1 (508) 543-2787 (ARTS)

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide