When I was in middle school, I was cast in the school play production of the musical version of the Charles Dickens tale "Oliver Twist."
Even at age 13, I must have been "old for my age" since I was cast as wealthy Mr. Brownlow, Oliver's generous benefactor, rather than having been asked to play a member of the gang of orphans.
And still today, I have a fondness for the musical "Oliver!" which is continuing this weekend with final performances at Light Opera Works in Evanston before it closes after a finale special curtain on New Year's Eve Monday.
I haven't seen any productions of "Oliver!" in years, so I'm eager to see the splashy treatment I'm sure Light Opera Works is giving it for this staging, when I attend one of today's shows.
With music, book and lyrics by Lionel Bart and based on the Dickens classic, this run is directed by Rudy Hogenmiller and choreographed by Chris Carter with the always impressive 26-member orchestra conducted by Roger L. Bingaman at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St. in Evanston.
The remaining performances are at 2 and 8 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Monday for New Year's Eve.
Tickets are priced at $32, $48, $68, $77 and $92, with special pricing for New Year's Eve at $34, $50, $70, $79 and $94
Ages 21 and younger are half-price for today's matinee, which includes a "meet the cast" opportunity following the show.
FYI: (847) 920-5360 or LightOperaWorks.com
This 1960 musical version of the story of orphans and pickpockets in the streets of London, include favorite songs like "Consider Yourself," "Where Is Love?," "As Long as He Needs Me," "Who Will Buy?" and "I'd Do Anything."
The casting includes James Harms as Fagin, Colette Todd as Nancy, Cary Lovett as Mr. Bumble, Michael Semanic as Oliver Twist, Darren Barrere as The Artful Dodger, Edward J. MacLennan as Bill Sykes, Sarah Jane Blevins as Widow Corney and Rick Rapp at Mr. Brownlow.
The design/production team includes Adam Veness (scenic), Brenda Winstead (costume), Sienna Macedon-Kusek (hair and make-up), Andrew Meyers (lighting), Tom Campbell (stage manager) and Katie Beeks (production manager).
Light Opera Works is a resident professional not-for-profit theater in Evanston, founded in 1980. The company's mission is to produce and present musical theater from a variety of world traditions. All productions are presented in English, with foreign works done in carefully edited modern translations. Maximum scholarship is employed to preserve the original vocal and orchestral material as well as the spirit of the original text whenever possible. Audiences have come to know that at Light Opera Works they will experience repertoire often unavailable on the stages of commercial theaters and opera houses, in modern productions with professional artists and full orchestra.