The Paper Mill Playhouse has a fine offering for theater goers for this holiday season. Playing now through December 29th is the musical “Oliver!” It is a show that can be seen and enjoyed by all who love seeing theater with good music and a good, heart warming story to tell.
Based on the Charles Dickens’ classic story, “Oliver Twist,” the musical became known as just “Oliver!” The music, lyrics, and book were written by Lionel Bart. It opened on Broadway in 1963 and was a success there. In 1968 it was made into a major motion picture. This stage version is directed by the Producing Artistic Director of the Paper Mill, Mark S. Hoebee with original choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter.
The show features an outstanding group of actors including David Garrison (Fagin), Betsy Morgan (Nancy), John Treacy Egan (Mr. Bumble), Jose Llana (Bill Sikes), David Hess (Mr. Brownlow), and Ethan Haberfield (Artful Dodger). Tyler Moran does an wonderful job playing the role of Oliver.
The show also features 16 local boys from across the state of New Jersey who auditioned from a pool of over 200. And what a fantastic job they do. They sing, dance, and move around on the stage like they were born to be there. Huge applause goes to this wonderful group of young actors.
“Oliver!” is well produced with beautiful sets and acting that is first rate. The songs from the show are legendary and audiences will enjoy hearing “Consider Yourself,” “Food Glorious Food,” “As Long as He Needs Me” and others. The dancing is exciting and the final surprise number at the end complete with snow falling will impress all who attend. But the real appeal of “Oliver!” is the actual story which involves the search a young orphan boy (Oliver) makes to find a family of his own. The importance of family is reinforced throughout the storyline as couples come together and even the pack of boys who steal for Fagin because they need to feel a part of a family no matter how different it is from the norm. Finally, Oliver finding his own true identity and where his family is provides some of the most winning moments of the show.
Families who are wondering about bringing children to this show might be interested to read what my companion for this show this show thought. She is a young lady (10 years old) who loves the theater. My “Junior Reviewer” felt that this show is appropriate for people of all ages but was a little concerned that very young children (under 7) might have a tough time watching the scene where Bill and Nancy struggle on the bridge and the results of that conflict. She was so pleased to hear “Where is Love” as she remembered it from an episode of “Glee!” She wasn’t familiar with some of the other songs but was impressed with the music and very thrilled with the dancing. She also thought Fagin was “hilarious” and Nancy was wonderful.
“Oliver!” will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday (check PaperMill.org for special holiday schedules) plus a special Christmas Eve matinee on Tuesday, December 24, 2013. Family-friendly performance schedule: Wednesday at 7:00pm, Thursday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm, Friday at 7:00pm, Saturday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.Papermill.org.