They’ve practiced for four months, and now they're ready for the curtain to go up.
The Holy Family School Players will perform “Oliver” this weekend for four shows:
- Friday, May 18 at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, May 19 at 3 and 7 p.m.
- Sunday, May 20 at 3 p.m.
The performances will take place in the gymnasium. Admission is $7.
The show is the school’s ninth production, according to director Catherine Little. "Oliver" features a cast of 92.
The story of "Oliver" is set in Victorian England. A baby boy is left on the steps of a work house, and a locket around his neck says "Oliver Twist," according to the story synopsis.
As soon as Oliver is old enough to walk, he is put to work by a fellow named Bumble. Oliver, however, infuriates Bumble by daring to ask for more food, so Bumble sells him to an undertaker.
Oliver runs away and joins a group of pick pockets in London where he meets Fagin, Dodger, the bully Bill Sykes and his girlfriend Nancy. He enjoys the attention he gets from the group and Nancy. One day, he gets picked up for stealing, although he’s innocent, and placed with a gentleman Mr. Brownlow and his kind maid Mrs. Bedwin. When Fagin fears that Oliver will spill the beans about the pick-pocketing ring, that’s when the trouble starts.
The show is a little “mature” for a group of performers in 1st through 8th grades, Little said, but she used some creative wording to skirt the issue.
For example, the “ladies of the evening” -- to put it politely -- are tavern workers in the Holy Family School version.
“There is murder, but not bloodshed,” Little said. “We had to tastefully make some choices.”
As far as the skill level of the show, the students have been practicing two to three times a week since January, according to Little.
And although the musical is typically performed by older students, Little is confident that her students, many of whom have been under her direction since her first production eight years ago, are up to the challenge.
Little said, “Our hope is that the sweet spirit of Oliver overcoming adversity will shine through to the audience.”
The part of Oliver is being played by two students, Analiese Hratko and Grace Kindt. Hratko, a fifth grader, said she has been in five shows with Little, but this is her first time taking on a lead part. She said she tried out for a different character, and was surprised when she was called back for Oliver.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Hratko said. “You can’t get this opportunity all the time.”
Hratko said she’s a little nervous for opening night, but she feels that she is ready. Her favorite part of the show is the song “Food Glorious Food.”
“It’s a fun scene with lots of dancing,” Hratko said.
The leading cast members include Emily Hilliard as Dodger, Logan Keenhold as Fagin, Luke Kenyon as Bill Sykes and Bumble, and Veronica Philip as Nancy.
Colleen Kenyon, Luke’s mother, said, “Catherine does an outstanding job. She brings things out of them we didn’t even know was there.”
“These kids are talented,” Jeff Keenhold, Logan’s father, added.
He said that Logan’s character Bill Sykes is a mean guy, and it’s been a challenging character for his son.
“Eighth grade boys are goofy,” Keenhold said. “It was hard to get him to be mean.”
Little said she is proud of the accomplishments of the students she has directed over the years. Three of her former students went on to be nominated for Freddy awards. One of them won, she said.
Little wanted to give one more kudos: to the parents whose volunteer work as stage crew, set designers, lighting technicians and more have made the school's productions successful.