By Bob Fowler, Roane State staff writer
The musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ famous novel, “Oliver Twist,” comes to Roane State’s O’Brien Theater for only three performances in a rare collaboration of the college’s Music and Theatre Arts departments.
The curtain goes up on Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!” at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 21 and 22, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 23.
It’s the story of a 9-year-old orphan and his misadventures, from being half-starved in a workhouse and famously asking for more gruel, to learning how to be a pickpocket on the gritty streets of 19th century London.
Memorable songs abound, from “Where Is Love?” to “Food Glorious Food” and “It’s a Fine Life.”
“It’s one of my favorite shows and a classic musical from the 1960s that’s been updated to add new songs,” said director Clarissa Feldt. “It’s a really fantastic big production.”
“Oliver!” features a cast of 50, including 16 youngsters from Roane County elementary and middle schools. Roane State students, University of Tennessee graduates, a Roane State foreign exchange student, and actors from the Knoxville area are also in the cast.
Joey Nieman, the 9-year-old son of Jenny and Matt Nieman of Farragut, has the title role.
“Our ‘Oliver’ is really fantastically talented,” Feldt said.
She said Joey has appeared in several other plays in the East Tennessee area, most recently the production of “Les Miserables” at Bearden High school. “Oliver!” is Joey’s biggest role yet.
The Roane State pep band, conducted by Roane State Music Professor Geol Greenlee will be on stage. Brenda Luggie is the music director, and most of the ensemble are from the college’s concert choir.
Rehearsals began in January after auditions in December, and cast members are now perfecting their roles in practices three to four times weekly, Feldt said.
She said there’s an elaborate set for the performances, with a bridge several feet high spanning the full length of the stage and over the orchestra.
“Oliver!” will be the first full-scale production in the nearly 500-seat O’Brien Theatre since it underwent extensive renovation, including updated lighting and new flooring. The theatre is on Roane State’s main campus in Harriman at 276 Patton Lane.
General admission to “Oliver!” is $15, while tickets for students, Roane State staff members and seniors 65 and over are $8. Tickets are purchased at the door by cash or check. To pre-reserve your tickets email [email protected] or call (865) 354-3000, extension 5296.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/RSCCOliver.
“Lionel Bart’s Oliver!” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI, 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019. MTIShows.com.
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