Woodrow Wilson High School Oliver!By Cappies • Nov 16th, 2011 • Category: Cappies
You’d be hard-pressed to find a gang of pickpockets listed as a Fortune 500 company – customer satisfaction would be notoriously low, but the roughish youth of Oliver! make this shady lifestyle more appealing than any day job. This refreshing perspective is but one of the strengths of Woodrow Wilson High School’s dynamic performance of the classic musical.
With book, music, and lyrics by Lionel Bart, Oliver! opened on West End in 1960 and premiered on Broadway in 1963 where it ran for nearly 800 performances and secured three Tonys. The musical had been revived multiple times on both Broadway and West End. The much beloved show is based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, and follows the trials of an orphan boy sold from a workhouse and later recruited by a band of young pickpockets. After a moonlight requisition gone wrong Oliver is taken in by a respectable gentleman and becomes disillusioned with the life of thievery, but escape won’t be easy.
Alexander Carroll-Cabanes drove the plot, playing Oliver with a wide-eyed boyish charm and a soft British accent perfectly fitting for his character. Maggie Roos as Nancy, the conflicted lover of the infamous brute Bill Sykes (Chris Jones), showed great depth in her performance and found her real niche in a hearty rendition of “Oom-Pah-Pah.” David Peck portrayed the leader of the young ruffians, Fagin, with quirky charisma and sinister undertones. His impeccable comedic timing, showcased in the contemplative number “Reviewing the Situation,” had the audience in stitches.
A lively ensemble lent great energy to the show with individual characterization and reactions. Fagin’s rowdy gang especially was a pleasure to watch, whether they were traipsing about the stage in the jovial “Pick a Pocket or Two” or acting all gentleman-like in “I’d Do Anything.” While the visual energy of the show was impressive it did not translate vocally, with ensemble numbers often lacking volume. At times heavy accents and a lack of diction obscured dialogue, but the accents overall were consistent and realistic.
The running crew, led by stage managers Annie Berman and Abby Mros, was of near professional quality. Complicated scene changes with bulky sets were executed quickly, fluidly, and quietly.
Woodrow Wilson’s choice to use an enormous cast, which included elementary and middle school students, was a risky one that worked out wonderfully. Their energy-infused production led to an absorbing, enjoyable show. “Please sir, can we have some more?”
Oliver! performances will continue this weekend on Friday, November 18 at 7:30PM, and two on Saturday, November 19 at 2:00PM and at 7:30PM. Don’t miss it.
by Gretchen Kuhn of Briar Woods High School
Photos by Judy Licht
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7374.