AISLE SAY Florida

OLIVER!

Book, Music & Lyrics by Lionel Bart
Based on Charles Dickens‘ "Oliver Twist"
Directed by Robert Ennis Turoff
Golden Apple Dinner Theatre
25 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-5454
March 27 through May 6 (except Mon. & Fri.), 2012-04-03 

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker

Oliver, glorious young Stevie Romero! Fagin, glorious Steve Dawson! Nancy, glorious Dianne Dawson (the best I’ve ever heard sing the part)!  Both pompous Mr. Bumble and murderous Bill Sykes, goriest Robby May! Most Artful Dodger (especially singing), Matty Colonna! It’s the cast, well directed, that makes The Apple’s version of "Oliver" so much fun, no matter how many times one may have seen the musical. And there’s that tasty score, where eight cute orphans singing "Food, Glorious Food" make one wish one had saved something from the preceding buffet to slip them as they parade through the audience to their sorry bad-house gruel.

In fact, there’s not a bad song in the lot, each fitting the characters and action perfectly. Reprises are welcome because they’re of songs that can be enjoyed both as part of the show and per se: "As Long as He Needs Me" and "Where Is Love?" are fine examples. Despite the sizeable cast, there are a few very suitable doublings, such as by Steve Carroll as Oliver’s kindly grandfather preceded by Carroll‘s not so kindly Mr. Sowerberry. Trez Cole’s set has levels of piping to allow swift interior scene changes as well as walks and chases throughout vintage London, with use of an upper side stage and the full proscenium as well. Jared Walker’s costumes in various fabrics,colors, and conditions are all appropriate to their wearers. Robert Ennis Turoff’s direction and Erik Gregory’s choreography result in fast pacing throughout.

Michael Sebastian has returned to assume musical direction at The Apple after a guest appearance in Ohio. He’s joined in an upper stage by Don Sturrock on keyboard and John Januszewski supplying percussion. Alex Torres has made Stage Management look easy. The 2 hour, 20 minute production with a 15 minute intermission seems to fly by.

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