SUBMITTED BY BETH MCMILLEN –
The 50-member cast for Oliver is currently rehearsing at Ouachita Little Theatre. Oliver is a 1960 musical, with script and music written by Lionel Bart. It is based on the 1838 Charles Dickens story, Oliver Twist. The entirely volunteer cast showcases very diverse experiences and backgrounds.
Mr. Bumble is played by Will Hose, who is returning to the OLT stage, after having been away to college where he majored in Radio and TV Production. The show opens as orphans in the workhouse, run by the heartless Mr. Bumble, line up for their daily portion of gruel.
Oliver, played by the talented April Burt, who OLT supporters will recall played Gretel in The Sound of Music, and Mary In The Secret Garden, asks for more gruel. Mr. Bumble is shocked that Oliver would ask for more. Amanda Baker is making her OLT debut as Mrs. Bumble, formerly The Widow Corney. Amanda is the music teacher and principal of Bethel Christian School.
Upon this act of impetuousness, Mr. Brumble decides Oliver is trouble and sells him to the Undertaker, Mr Sowerberry. Mr. Sowerberry is played by Bill Hays. Bill has been in 19 musicals in addition to having been the voice of the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors. Mrs. Sowerberry is played by newcomer to OLT, Tracey Prather. Tracey is from Texarkana where she was active in community events and the revitalization of the downtown.
After a big fight at the Sowerberry’s, Oliver runs away. He meets the Artful Dodger in London, played by Brynn Harvey, a sophomore at Mena High School, who is taking Theatre Arts and someday hopes to be a professional actor. After a brief discussion, the Artful Dodger introduces Oliver to Fagan, played by Scotty Jenkins. Scotty is just off an outstanding performance as the foreigner in The Foreigner. Fagan is an elderly crook who teaches his gang the art of picking pockets.
Other characters Oliver meets while in Fagan’s group are: Bill Sykes, a sinister robber, played by Joe Van Wolf. If the Van Wolf name sounds familiar, you may remember it from seeing his work at the Mena Art Gallery where he shows his bronze sculptures.
Nancy, Bill Sykes’ girlfriend played by Alexa Night, is also a newcomer to the OLT stage. She is a graduate of the American & Dramatic Academy in New York. She played Jo in Little Women in New York.
Mr. Brownlow is a wealthy gentlemen played by Larry Kropp. Larry has been in many musicals. He is the husband of Music Director Judy Kropp. When there is a spot to be filled, Larry is always willing to step in and fill it.
Oliver is directed by Rudi Timmerman, with Music Director Judy Kropp, and Assistant Director Ladonna Van Wolf. Oliver opens at the OLT in April and plays two weekends, April 15-17 and April 22-24.