Light Opera Works Finishes Season with OLIVER' Review - A Musical to Delight the Heart and Fill You with Song

OLIVER!, based on the Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist, provides an evening of wonderful entertainment.  The music is familiar and preformed beautifully, the story is a classic, the stage settings are excellent, and the range of characters provide a variety of people to either love or hate.  The 1960 musical version of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist includes the songs “Consider Yourself,” “Where Is Love?,” “As Long as He Needs Me,” “Who Will Buy?” and “I’d Do Anything.”

Cary Lovett (Mr. Bumble), Sarah Jane Blevins (Widow Corney) with boys' ensemble

The musical opens in an orphanage in London with the boys all hungry, thinking and singing of "Food, Glorious Food".  The proprietors of the orphanage, Mr. Bumble (Cary Lovett) and Widow Corney (Sarah Jane Blevins) give them meager portions of gruel.

Michael Semanic (Oliver Twist)

When one boy, Oliver (Michael Semanic), has the audacity to ask "Please sir, I want some more", he is taken and sold to a funeral director, his job to be following children's coffins and looking sad.  This does not work out for him and Oliver  runs away into the streets.  Luckily he is befriended by an older boy named the Artful Dodger (Darren Barrere) who takes him "home" to a man who will feed and shelter him, the forever scheming Fagin (James Harms).

Michael Semanic (Oliver Twist) and James Harms (Fagin)

This new home has a price in that Oliver must become a pick pocket.  Fagin teaches him a few tricks in the song "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two".  Unfortunately, on his first day out, Oliver is falsely accused of picking the pocket of a wealthy gentleman and taken to jail.

Darran Barrere (Artful Dodger), James Harms (Fagin) and Colette Todd (Nancy)

When the gentleman finds he is innocent he takes him home and Oliver finds love for the first time. Nancy (Colette Todd) who plays the warm hearted prostitute thrills the audience with “As Long as He Needs Me” singing about the evil, powerful villian Bill Sykes (Edward Maclennan) whom she loves. One would think this would be the happy ending to the story but it is not. But then I don't want to spoil it for you. You need to see it yourself.

OLIVER! is directed by Rudy Hogenmiller, choreographed by Chris Carter and conducted by Light Opera Works music director Roger L. Bingaman with a 26 piece live orchestra.

OLIVER is currently playing at the Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, Evanston, IL. It is the final production of the 2012 Light Opera Works season, It opened on December 22 and is scheduled as follows:

Sunday, December 23 at 2 pm

Family Matinee: Wednesday, December 26 at 2 pm

Family Matinee: Thursday, December 27 at 2 pm

Friday, December 28 at 8 pm

Family Matinee: Saturday, December 29, at 2 pm

Saturday, December 29, at 8 pm

Sunday, December 30, at 2 pm

Monday, December 31, at 8 pm (New Year’s Eve)

Ticket prices for OLIVER! range from $32 to $94. Ages 21 and younger are half price at Family Matinees on December 26, 27 and 29 at 2 pm. To order tickets, or for more information, visit the Light Opera Works box office at 516 4th Street in Wilmette, call (847) 920-5360, or order 24 hours a day online at

The upcoming 2013 season will begin with H.M.S. PINAFORE (June 8-16), followed by CABARET (August 10-25), GERSHWIN’S GREATEST HITS (October 4-13) and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (December 21-31).

Discounted season ticket packages are available.

Photos: Courtesy of Light Opera Works




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