OLIVER! WBT has another successful show.

Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013 7:00 am By: Marlene S. Gaylinn Source: ON CT & NY THEATRE

The musical “Oliver,” contains some wonderful music and lyrics by Lionel Bart.  Add some professional actors, a large cast of children from Standing Ovation Studios (SOS),
headed by Director/Producer, John Fanelli and his wife Nannette (both have tons of experience working with young people) and Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) has another successful show.

“Oliver” is based on “Oliver Twist,” a Charles Dickens book about a runaway orphan who encounters some interesting adventures and a very hard life among the street-smart characters of London.  Like many of Dickens’s works, there are many characters and sub-plots that eventually fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle at the end.

Unfortunately, when the novel is condensed into a musical, some important details suffer.  For example, in “Oliver” the musical, we don’t learn much about England’s
Industrial Revolution -- how the changes affected society, and what motivated each of the characters to behave the way they did.  Without reading the book, we cannot possibly understand the attitudes and complex family relationships of Oliver’s wealthy patrons with whom he eventually finds happiness.

While the musical lacks cohesiveness, its main purpose is to entertain.  In that sense, it cannot be denied that this show is packed with wonderful songs, lots of dancing, a gang of precocious children plus a few villains. Taken as pure entertainment, “Oliver” at WBT is loads of fun for folks of all ages.

Of the many productions we’ve seen, Brandon Singel, a cute 6th grader at LMK Middle School, in Harrison,NY, is most outstanding in the title role. Trained by SOS, he’s spunky, moves well, and has a clear, strong voice.  His sweet, innocent face and tender rendition of “Where is Love,” will surely move you.

John Anthony Lopez as “Fagin,” is the appropriate father figure to his gang of starving, street orphans.  He adds cartoon like amusement to the song and dance numbers “Pick a Pocket or Two,” and “Reviewing the Situation,” but does not become a fully developed character.  Fagin’s cultural background -- why he became trapped by circumstances and created his family of boys, is glossed over in favor of fun and frolic.  There ‘s a lot of action going on at the same time.

John  Treacy Egan is the sinister, orphanage director, “Mr. Bumble,” and Regina Singel aptly plays his friend, the “Widow Corney.” Lucy Braid powerfully sings her heart out as “Nancy,” in the haunting, “As Long As He Needs Me.” Her lover is Brian Krinsky, who plays a very cruel “Bill Sykes.” 
Christina Tompkins and John Caldara make a lively pair of funeraldirectors and Todd Ritch plays the Artful Dodger with charming finesse.  Carrie Silvernail is responsible for the lively choreography and the orchestra is under the direction of Kurt Kelly.

While the opening number in “Oliver” is “Food, Glorious Food,” which turns out to be gruel at the orphanage  -- you can be assured that the menu of this dinner theatre does contain many glorious choices.   

Plays to Sept. 8