Volume 95, Issue 97

Tuesday, April 9, 2002
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Van Wilder ain't no Animal House

You'll scream for Oliver!

Puttin' "compact" back in discs

Porn o' Plenty

A&E's Top 5 Restaurants of 2001-2002

Shits and Giggles

A&E: Leaving the last word to a song

You'll scream for Oliver!


Starring: Jennifer Carey, Jamie Sanders, Sarah Bruckschwaiger, Douglas Price, Jonathan Wexler, Yurisa Kawamoto

Directed By: Susan Ferley

Four 1/2 stars (out of five)

By Dale Wyatt
Gazette Staff

Gazette File Photo

Ever wanted to see the future? Well now's your chance.

Oliver!, the famous adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel currently playing at the Grand Theatre, showcases some of London's most prominent young talent.

Featuring high school students from all over London, Oliver! is a fantastic play of the highest calibre. If you go expecting an amateur performance, you will truly be amazed by the maturity and level of professionalism these performers display.

Set to a classically dim, Victorian background, the story follows the gentle, soft-spoken orphan Oliver Twist (Jennifer Carey) as he bounces from person-to-person looking for a place to fit in.

After getting in trouble at the workhouse with the exuberant Mr. Bumble (Jonathan Wexler), Oliver is sold by Bumble to the creepy undertakers, Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry.

It quickly becomes apparent poor Oliver has no place with the Sowerberrys. He soon runs away and falls under the thievish wings of the weasely thief Fagan. While on his first assignment, Oliver's life changes forever.

The entire cast works together beautifully. The dancing, singing and monologues are all delivered with ease and perfect timing. In this respect, every cast member is worthy of praise.

When it comes to the musical numbers, Nancy (Sarah Bruckschwaiger) deserves to be mentioned. This young lady has the ability to fill the entire theatre with her voice. Her songs carry an infectious wave of heartfelt emotion, drawing the audience into her tragic struggle for the love of a na•ve thief.

As for a strong stage presence, Wexler and Yurisa Kawamoto, the wacky and hilarious Widow Corney, are untouchable. Together, they are a perfect pair who steal the majority of the play's humourous moments.

Another perfectly cast character is the sly Artful Dodger (Douglas Price). Price has the English accent down and the way he glides across the stage during the dance sequences is a joy to watch.

At certain moments, some of the softer spoken players get lost amongst the loud music coming from the mezzanine. Although it is not a huge problem, it's definitely a strain on the play.

The costumes help to transform the large wooden stairs that occupy the majority of the stage into the hub of a colourful city, filled with people of all kinds. Dresses and suits vary from rags to riches – from Nancy's flat black dress to the elegant gentleman's suit worn by Mr. Brownlow (Jamie Sanders).

London should be proud to have such a strong pool of young performers. This play is not only worth checking out because it's a great story executed with precision, but because it indicates that the future of London theatre looks bright.

Oliver! plays at the Grand Theatre until Apr. 14. All tickets are $25. For more info, call 672-8800.

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