Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oliver at Capital Playhouse

Please sir, more. Skyler Zimmerman, Robert Corl, Sara Flotree Beekman
Here’s a bit of irony: the cover of the program for The Musical Oliver at Capital Playhouse carries the legend, “The show that will leave you wanting more!” And it did. The ending left me wanting more, meaning it was not satisfying. Perhaps I should have expected it because I have seen the show before, but it just seems to peter out. The big revelation about Oliver is glossed over and then Fagin comes out and sings a short reprise of “Reviewing the Situation,” and that’s it.
On the night I saw it the audience sat for a moment as if not sure it was over, and then gave the cast the requisite standing ovation.
My reaction to the end is like my reaction to the whole play. It’s a good story nicely produced with good music and good acting, but it left me slightly dissatisfied.
Directed by Colleen Powers and musically directed by Claudia Simpson-Jones, Oliver stars sixth grader Skyler Wyatt Zimmerman in the title role, seventh grader Kate Hayes as The Artful Dodger, Patrick Wigren as Fagin, Kristin Burch as Nancy, and Jason Pead as Bill Sykes; also featuring Robert Corl as Mr. Bumble-The Beadle, Sara Flotree Beekman as The Widow Corney, and Carolyn Willems Van Dijk as Mrs. Sowerberry and Mrs. Bedwin. You gotta love Charles Dickens’ character names.
Patrick Wigren, Skyler Zimmerman
It is a big and boisterous musical with many elaborate song and dance numbers bringing pretty much the whole 26-person cast on stage. It’s touching and humorous, violent at times, and the costumes by Kellen Dixie Krieg are a joy to behold. Mr. Bumble’s giant hat is hilarious, as is the hoop skirt worn by The Widow Corney, which looks big enough that half the boys in the workhouse could hide under it. Nancy’s low-cut, grease-smeared, flared-skirt dress highlights her beauty while being true to her lower class status. The costumes for both Fagin and Dodger are also outstanding. The makeup, however, is overdone on some of the characters. Yes, there are dirty street urchins and lowlife characters, but having pretty much the same smears on their cheeks day after day is unrealistic and distracting.
The first really great musical number is Bumble and Corney’s silly flirtation scene to the tune “I Shall Scream” with Flotree-Beekman and Corl putting their operatic voices to good use while Bumble bumbles an attempt at seduction.
In many productions of Oliver, Fagin provides the biggest comic highlights and Wigren, one of the best comic actors to regularly grace South Sound musical stages, does a good job. But he is not quite up to his usual almost-genius level of comedic acting. Even the best are not always at their best in every role.
Zimmerman is an excellent Oliver. He conveys the perfect wide-eyed innocence, and he sings nicely. Van Dijk is beautifully and comically expressive and sings well.
But the actors who truly shine in every scene they are in are Hayes, Burch and Pead. If you didn’t know you’d probably never suspect that Hayes is a girl playing the part of a boy. Her energy and her facial expressions are delightful. Burch is simply amazing. I could not take my eyes off her — not just because of her physical beauty but because of her saucy, proud bearing, her wide range of expressions, and her incredible voice. Pead simply possesses stage. When he first appears as Bill Sykes and sings the song “My Name,” Pead frightens the life out of everyone on the set. His expressions and mannerisms are intimidating and powerful, as they should be for this character. Pead and Powers could have shied away from making him so threatening. I’m glad they didn’t.
The cast does a fine job of singing and acting, and the band is wonderful.
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through March 31
Where: Capital Playhouse: 612 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia
Tickets: $28-39
More information: 360-943-2744,

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