By MICHELLE JACOBY
Charles Dickens’ classic “Oliver Twist” comes to life at the Westchester Broadway Theatre this month. This beloved musical tells the tale of the orphan boy who is swept into a band of pickpockets. The show takes you back to Victorian London, introducing us to a colorful cast of characters.
This production of “Oliver” is presented by Standing Ovation Studios, formerly known as the Lighthouse Youth Theatre. John Fanelli is the director who expanded the “Bridge to Broadway” program, combining Broadway performers with local rising stars. The combination is magical and the proof is on stage.
A strong, solid cast and remarkable musical talent sends you on an emotional roller coaster as it captures the joys and challenges of youth. The Tony award-winning score is full of Lionel Bart’s irresistible songs, such as “Food Glorious Food,” “Consider Yourself,” “I’d Do Anything,” “Oom Pah Pah” and “As Long As He Needs Me.”
The star of this production is a local resident from Harrison, Brandon Singel, as Oliver. Singel is a fearless young actor. He has to run around and fear for his life on stage as his character sings and dances at the same time. Singel shares the stage with talented veteran actors and holds his own.
One of the more frightening characters is Bill Sykes, fight captain. Brian Krinsky is perfection in this role. He owns the stage. The only one to take him on is the strong-willed Nancy, played by Lucy Braid. Braid’s petite in stature and big on talent. She is smooth and comfortable on stage. She has fun with “Oom-Pah-Pah” and “It’s a Fine Life,” but is lonely and scared for “As Long As He Needs Me.”
Cali LaSpina is Bet, Nancy’s friend, and these two have a lot of fun on stage together. Two actors that are also fun to watch are John Treacy Egan as Mr. Bumble and John Anthony Lopez as Fagin. The boisterous Mr. Bumble handles some comedic scenes with, “I Shall Scream” and “Boy For Sale.” The animated fun-loving Fagin, leader of the pickpockets, has some dirty secrets. Lopez has great chemistry with Todd Ritch, the Artful Dodger. Lopez’s body language changes quickly when darkness shows up, but he tries to hold it all together until he realizes he will never change.
Fagin’s pickpocket gang has an average age of 10. These young stars handle the show’s demands well. The list includes Brianna Gartenberg, Akira Golz, Jeremy Michael Lanuti, Olivia Lombardi, Peter Neureuther, Chase O’Brien, Gabriella Palminteri, Molly Perrine and Sam Rodd.
The musical direction, by Kurt Kelley, played a key role in this production. The music set the tone for this show. Set design by Steve Loftus, costume design by Bottari and Case, lighting design by Bob D’urso, sound design by Mark Zuckerman and choreography by Carrie Silvernail all contribute mightily to the show.
John and Nannette Fanelli, the executive producers of “Oliver,” have taken this classic and brought it to life on stage at the Westchester Broadway Theatre, playing now through Sept. 8. It is a heart-warming story for the entire family.
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