Dickens-based musical, OLIVER, opens Aug. 5 in Stamford

At some time in our lives, we all want some more. More money. More friends. More toys. But in 1800s England, there were many wants…especially for orphans like the fictional character, Oliver Twist, who wanted — among other things — some more gruel.

Since 1960, millions of theatre-goers have enjoyed Oliver, by Lionel Bart, the musical adaption of that classic Dickens tale. With the original production having played more than six years in London, the show came to the US and become a standard of the American Musical Theatre cannon.

Curtain Call’s 25th annual Summer Youth Theatre production of Oliver, features a cast and crew of nearly 100, and will play for 10 performances in The Kweskin Theatre beginning Aug. 5. Evening performances begin at 7:30, with matinees at 2 on Aug. 9 and 15.

The story of Oliver centers on his early life, who was raised in the 1830s in a workhouse but later runs away to London. Dickens explored the world of workhouses and the poor in the seamy side of Victorian London, as seen through the eyes of his young hero, who lands in the clutches of the entertaining but ruthless Fagin, who runs a gang of youthful pickpockets and thieves. The musical has a score packed with such popular songs as “As Long as He Needs Me”, “Oom Pa Pa” and “Where Is Love?”

“Celebrating 25 years of providing this wonderful summer program for area youth is something all of us at Curtain Call are extremely proud of,” said Lou Ursone, Curtain Call’s executive director. “I got my start doing summer theatre here in Stamford, so our Summer Youth Theatre program is very near and dear to me,” Ursone added.

Someone else whose career is deeply rooted in summer theatre tradition is Brian Bianco, Curtain Call’s education director. He was a founding member of the organization’s Summer Youth Theatre program and is proud to be directing this summer’s production.

“It has been moving to see how the spirit of the program has continued for 25 years,” Bianco said. “This cast has been a terrific group to work with and I am so proud of the production and the efforts they all have put in for this,” he added.

With so many talented young performers around, making casting decisions for a show like this is very difficult for the organization. “There are only so many actors we can fit on our stage,” said Ursone. The cast of 65 was culled from nearly 100 who auditioned.

Sharing the title role of Oliver are Michael McArthur of Stamford and Christopher Messis of Old Greenwich, who will play on alternating performances. Last year’s leading man, Brendan George (Stamford) returns as villain Bill Sykes. Another long-time Summer Youth Theatre participant, Savannah Belle Miller, (Greenwich) returns as the leading lady of the piece, Nancy. The leading roles of Fagin and The Artful Dodger, will be played by Kyle McArthur and Ronnie Harvey, respectively, both of Stamford. (Kyle McArthur is older brother of Michael…siblings Daniel and Justin are also in the production!)

Others in the cast include, from STAMFORD: Ries Allyn, William Bruno, Austin Cappetta, Maggie Carucci, Kristina DeLelle, Emily DiGiacomo, Meredith DiGiacomo, Caroline Eagleton, Molly Eagleton, Lilly Fine, Julia Fruithandler, Liam Gelling, Lalith Goli, Cara Grasso, Lucy Hart, Catherine Harvey, Brady Hayes, Patrick Hayes, Brianna Jean, Sarah Kaplan, Courtney Kollar, Tessa Kurtz, Kera Lalli, Bella Martinez, Justin McArthur, Kyle McArthur, Michael McArthur, Daniel McArthur, Jourdan Miller, Nina Paolini-Rota, Katie Priscott, Lisa Robotti, Sara Rohan, Maeve Ronan, Lauryn Schiller, Jayce Schwartz, Talia Shapiro, Emma Sharma, Zoe Smith, Ava Spinelli Mastrone, Franki Spinelli Mastrone, Jessie P. Tarzia and Abby Wexler; from GREENWICH/OLD GREEWICH/RIVERSIDE: Skye Gillespie, Sofia Luna, Lauren Mickley, Sarah Mickley and Jillian Retzler; from DARIEN: Grace Cashman and Toby Mossa; from NORWALK: Sarah Kadlick, Megan O’Callaghan and Samuel White; from NEW CANAAN: Carmen Anne Nold and Maria Oliveira; from ROWAYTON: Zach Volcek;from STRATFORD: Nora Watson; from WESTON: Rebecca Borowik; from WILTON: Kevin Collins.

Joining Bianco on the production team are music director, Christopher PIro (Pelham, NY), choreographer, Emily Frangipane (Norwalk), set designer, Peter Barbieri, Jr. (Fairfield), lighting designer Adam Lobelson and costume designer, Claudia Noel Nerreau (both of Ridgefield), and stage manager, Julia Zimmerman (Stamford).

Ticket prices are $32 for adults, $24 for senior citizens and $16 for students/children. Thrifty Thursday price – all seats $22. Box Office: 203-461-6358 or online at www.curtaincallinc.com.

Curtain Call is the nonprofit, professionally-run, community-based theatre company in residence at The Sterling Farms Theatre Complex, 1349 Newfield Avenue in Stamford. Year-round productions and educational workshops are presented by and for area residents in The Kweskin Theatre and The Dressing Room Theatre. Curtain Call was voted Fairfield County’s BEST LOCAL THEATRE GROUP 10 years in a row in the Annual Readers’ Poll of The Fairfield County Weekly as well as BEST LOCAL THEATRE by StamfordPlus magazine for the past five years. Curtain Call also received The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism for 2011.

(TRIVIA TIME: Cast members from the original Broadway production of OLIVER appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show the same night The Beatles made their first appearance on that show.)

Sharing the role of Oliver in Curtain Call’s Summer Youth Theatre production of OLIVER are Michael McArthur (left) and Christopher Messis. These two young actors will alternate performances in The Kweskin Theatre, Stamford, August 5 through 15.

Sharing the role of Oliver in Curtain Call’s Summer Youth Theatre production of OLIVER are Michael McArthur (left) and Christopher Messis. These two young actors will alternate performances in The Kweskin Theatre, Stamford, August 5 through 15.

Taking a break on the set of Curtain Call’s Summer Youth Theatre production of OLIVER are Savannah Belle Miller as Nancy and Ronnie Harvey ad The Artful Dodger.

Taking a break on the set of Curtain Call’s Summer Youth Theatre production of OLIVER are Savannah Belle Miller as Nancy and Ronnie Harvey ad The Artful Dodger.

avannah Belle Miller as Nancy and Ronnie Harvey ad The Artful Dodger

avannah Belle Miller as Nancy and Ronnie Harvey ad The Artful Dodger.

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