July 2007

Oliver! At the Main Street Theatre

Author: Linda Hopkins

You’ve read the book. Perhaps you’ve seen the movie version. But you don’t know OLIVER! if you haven’t seen it on stage. Even if you have, you will want to see it again at the Main Street Youth Theatre this summer.

The production is the musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classical tale, Oliver Twist, and is filled with highly-recognizable songs. “These are major songs that people know—songs like As Long as He Needs Me, I’d Do Anything, and Consider Yourself,” said Scott Morlock, director of the local production. “This was back when almost every song in the show became a song you heard on the radio. Not only theatre people, but general audiences will be familiar with the music.”

Set in early Victorian England, it is the story of a young boy who is orphaned at birth and raised in a series of charity homes or workhouses. The curtain opens on the bleak interior of the workhouse with a bare dining table. Pale-faced street urchins can be seen peering through the bars of the door at the back. The door opens and the boys file in to the table singing Food, Glorious Food. When Oliver has the audacity to ask for more, he is sold to the undertaker. Sad and alone, surrounded by coffins, he sings, Where Is Love?

Eventually he runs away and joins a London gang of child pickpockets, controlled by a disreputable man known as Fagin. After a series of coincidences, Oliver is rescued from the world of poverty and street crime by a kindly older man, making for a happy ending with a bit of a surprise twist.

According to Morlock, what makes the local show unique is the fact that many parents and children are onstage together. “This is a real family show for us.”

For Morlock himself, it is a family affair and labor of love. His wife, Beverly, is responsible for creating all 102 costumes for the show. In addition to his role as director, Morlock tracks all the music, recording it like an orchestra prior to the production. He also plays a minor role as the undertaker (Mr. Sowerberry) while his son, Marshall, plays Oliver. “People think that Oliver is the star. It’s a big part, but Fagin and Nancy are really the biggest stars of the show,” explained Morlock.

Playing the male lead (Fagin) is Ford Allen, whose daughter, Shelby is in the chorus, playing several roles while her sister, Chelsea, assists backstage.

The principal female role, Nancy, is played by Lori Ann Webster (media assistant at the Hilton Head Creative School for the Arts) who, according to Morlock, has worked backstage for many shows. Her daughter, Megan, is singing and dancing with the group of kids.

Bluffton attorney, Mike Cofield plays the part of Mr. Brownlow, Oliver’s savior, while his son, Brice, plays the sinister Bill Sikes.

According to Morlock, there are 41 people in the show. “It’s a large cast for us,” he said. “The kids have a lot to do in this show. They all have lines and parts and sing lots of songs.”

OLIVER! was first presented in London, where it played for 2,618 performances at the New Theatre. It played for 774 performances on Broadway at the Imperial and Shubert Theatres. It has been revived on Broadway several times, as in 1984 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, and in London in 1994 at the Palladium.

The local production will play at the Main Street Youth Theatre, 3000 Main Street, from July 5-August 5. Most shows sell out the day of the performance. Guests are advised to purchase tickets in advance. The Box Office is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and one hour prior to each performance. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and children, with special rates available for groups of 10 or more. For show times, ticket reservations and more information, call 843-689-6246.

Main Street Youth Theatre

Main Street Youth Theatre is dedicated to providing a true theatrical experience to amateur local young talent. In addition to the fabulous productions presented to the community, the organization provides a variety of school year programs and summer camps for interested children of all ages.

Main Street Youth Theatre is a 501 C 3 non-profit organization, relying on sponsors and volunteers for its ongoing success. Monetary contributions provide ongoing operational support for training and educational programs as well as for the general expenses associated with operating the theatre.

Volunteers are critical to the success of the programs. Most jobs are simple and require minimal time commitments. Ongoing needs include ushers, concessions staff, box office attendants, office assistants, production assistants, costume makers, fund raisers and more. Extra hands are needed to do everything from organizing the costume room, hanging production posters, painting, providing electrical, plumbing and HVAC services, sewing and more. Whatever your skills or interests, the Main Street Theatre has a place for you.

For more information about programs, to make a donation, advertise in the playbill or to volunteer your services, visit www.msyt.com or call the theatre office at 843-689-6246.

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