ELMSFORD, N.Y. -- Area residents may be in a quandary on how to spend the closing weeks of the “un-official” weeks of Summer 2013. If they do, make a bee-line to the Westchester Broadway Theatre.
Now playing through Sept. 8, is the delightful and family friendly "Oliver!" the musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' timeless tale. The show is produced by Standing Ovation Studios.
The musical direction, by Kurt Kelley, is masterful. The choreography, by Carrie Silvernail, conveys the wealth of emotions that are exhibited on stage throughout the show.
Stepping into the very big shoes of Oliver is Brandon Singel. The soon-to-be 6th grader has built a very impressive theatrical resume, and ably plays the lead role. From the very moment that the shy and soft-spoken Master Oliver Twist appeals for a second helping of his daily gruel, Singel captures the hearts of the audience, and never looks back.
The leading cast of characters include John Anthony Lopez (Fagin), Todd Ritch (the Artful Dodger) and Lucy Braid, who plays Nancy.
The bumbling, comedic turns of Fagin makes someone wonder how he so effortlessly “Pick(s) a Pocket or Two.”
Although, at first glance, Fagin may look as if he is impersonating the revered American statesman, Dr. Benjamin Franklin, in his costume, hair and make-up, any resemblances are quickly dispelled as he bungles his way on stage. The likes of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and a young Jerry Lewis come to mind as we see Fagin lead his merry band of youthful pick-pocketers.
Ms. Braid's moving rendition of “As Long as He Needs Me” does not leave a dry eye in the house.
The Artful Dodger's agility across the stage, as demonstrated by Todd Ritch, reminds one of such legendary hoofers as Gene Kelly, Ray Bolger and Tommy Tune.
I was ecstatic to see Anthony Malchar take the stage in the dual roles of Noah Claypoole and Dr. Grimwig. Malchar last appeared at the WBT in the lead role of Huckleberry Finn in "Big River." We were even happier to see John Treacy Egan take the stage as Mr. Bumble. Nearly three years ago, Bumble was set to play the lead role in “A Sleepy Hollow Christmas Carol,” in November-December 2010 at the WBT, when, at the last moment, he was forced to vacate the role. Both of these fine actors gave outstanding performances.
“Oliver!” is a musical for the entire family. Director John J. Fanelli has lovingly crafted a show that brings to life the host of delightful and dark characters that inhabit this literary giant's timeless classic. It is a musical not to be missed.
For tickets, call (914)-592-2222 or visit the Westchester Broadway Theatre website.
William Reynolds is the former Ossining Town Historian.