By Crystal McGough, Editor
BLOUNT COUNTY – Audiences will have the opportunity to travel back in time to the streets of Victorian London for the next two weekends in Blount County as the Community Arts Council of Blount County presents Lionel Bart’s “Oliver the Musical,” based on the Charles Dickens novel, “Oliver Twist.”
With a cast and crew of approximately 40, nearly equally children and adults, “Oliver” tells the story of a malnourished orphan in a workhouse who becomes the apprentice of an undertaker before escaping to London to try to find acceptance amongst a group of petty thieves and pickpockets.
“It’s a tragic story,” co-director Scot Self said. “Ultimately, it ends up good, but Oliver is treated terribly everywhere he goes. It’s kind of dark in some ways. There’s a bad guy, and Oliver goes through a lot, but there are several uplifting group numbers and you know it’s going to all work out in the end for him.”
Scot and his wife, Daphne Self are co-directing “Oliver,” along with assistant director Aletha Taylor and producer Teri Clyde. Auditions were held in July and the cast and crew have been working hard since then rehearsing and getting ready for their performances.
“We focused on doing just vocals for a while. It is a musical, of course, so we did a lot of vocal rehearsals before we were on site and doing any sort of blocking or choreography,” Scot said. “There’s a lot of great songs; really catchy music.”
When choosing which play to direct, Scott said he knew from the start that he wanted a musical, and one that included both children and adults.
“I wanted to incorporate kids, but I didn’t want it to be a ‘kids’ show,” he said. “The talent in these actors and actresses is as good as any I’ve ever seen anywhere in town. I don’t say that lightly because I’ve seen some of the best shows in town, all the way from Red Mountain, ACTA, Virginia Samford, even BJCC. Some of the stuff I’ve seen at this Arts Council building is as good as something I’ve seen at BJCC. It’s very much a hidden gem.”
The props and set pieces were a community effort, Scot said, with his father Stephen Self personally making a lot of the costumes and props, and Trussville’s ACTA Theatre and the Theater of Gadsden loaning what Scot described as “critical pieces.”
“We really appreciate the goodwill from other local theaters and hope to return the favor,” he said.
Having not previously been familiar with the story of “Oliver,” Scot said he read Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” in preparation.
“It’s funny because the book is 400 pages or so and almost the entire musical happens in the first 100,” he said. “There’s about 300 pages that don’t get included in the musical, but a lot of it is taken straight from the book. The dialogue, word for word in a lot of places, comes from the book.”
Opening weekend performances will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27 – 28, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 29. The following weekend, performances will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3 and 4, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5.
Regular tickets are $15 and Gold Premium tickets (front three rows) are $20. Concessions will be available and attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase Candy-Grams for their favorite cast or crew members.
The title sponsor for “Oliver the Musical” is Fifth Estate Publishing.
For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit https://www.blountcountyartscouncil.com/oliver.html