Production of ‘Oliver!’ to open at Strauss Theater
A non-profit theater company is selling tickets for its second show of the season on Sanibel.
The Creative Theater Workshop will kick off its opening performance of “Oliver!” on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at the BIG ARTS Strauss Theater. With a cast comprised of youths and adults, the show will run for two weekends, with the remaining dates and times as: Dec. 9 at 2 and 6 p.m., Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., Dec. 15 at 2 and 7 p.m., and Dec. 16 at 2 and 6 p.m.
It is the first time that the company has put on the production.
“It’s a great show,” Robin Dawn Ryan, the director and choreographer, said. “It’s a really good story, good musical. It has a lot of dancing in it.”
“It’s not a children’s show, but there’s children in it,” she added. “It’s a show for all ages.”
There are more than 40 cast members, with the youngest about 9 years old.
“We’ve been rehearsing since, I want to say, October,” Ryan said, adding that the group has been practicing a couple of hours a day for a few days each week.
She explained that it has been a collaborative effort among the cast and crew to pull together the show, like helping to acquire props from other theaters and painting the set, which does not always happen.
“These kids have been very involved, and the adults as well,” Ryan said, adding that a lot of times youth are not given the chance to work with adult performers. “I think it’s good for the kids.”
The cast consists of Oliver, played by Gabe Cruz; Fagin by Michael Moran, executive director of the Cultural Park Theater in Cape Coral; Artful Dodger by North Fort Myers High School student Alex Leeds; Bill Sikes by Fort Myers High School student Scotty Wells; Nancy by Isabella Sbarra, Sanibel resident and Cypress Lake High School student; and Bet by Isabelle Blanco.
There is also Mr. Bumble, played by Robert Barnes; Mrs. Corney by Tricia Hennessey; Mr. Brownlow by Ron Yalowica; Old Sally by Ryan; Mr. Sowerberry by Eli Baldwin; and Mrs. Sowerberry by Amy Sbarra, also a Sanibel resident and Isabella’s mother.
“She’s in the show along with her daughter,” Ryan noted.
She compared the plot of the production to “Annie” but with a boy.
“Oliver’s mom dies and leaves him in a workhouse, and it’s basically an orphanage and the kids are treated very poorly and badly,” Ryan said, adding that Oliver is taken out to be sold when he becomes a problem by asking for more than the allotted one meal per day.
“He runs away and goes into the big city of London and meets the Artful Dodger, a member of a pickpocket gang led by the crafty old Fagin,” she said. “Fagin has a family of young kids that he has trained how to steal.”
The story follows Oliver and his journey.
“They’re going to hear some incredible voices. The leads are amazing,” Ryan said.
“There are some parts that are a little dark, but it ends happy,” she added. “It has a happy ending.”
The layout of the Strauss Theater lends itself to audience participation.
“The audience becomes part of the show because they’ve very up close to the performers,” Ryan said. “So my performers will be interacting with the audience.”
Tickets for “Oliver!” range from $10 to $30.
Assigned seats are sold, so the best ones in the house will go first.
“They definitely should get their tickets in advance, especially because it’s the holidays and people want to do different things,” she said.
The community is encouraged to pick up their tickets.
“They’ve worked very hard for this and people are going to be very pleased and very surprised by the talent our best reward is to have a full house,” Ryan said. “And by coming to the theater and supporting the theater, the theater can continue to grow.”
“It will definitely be worth their ticket price,” she added.
To purchase tickets, visit sanibeltickets.com.
For more information, call 239-738-3525 or visit www.ctwtheater.com.
The BIG ARTS Strauss Theater is at 2200 Periwinkle Way.