Tuneful ‘Oliver!’ Lightens Grim Undertone of Dickens’ Novel

December 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM

MILLBURN, NJ – The large, talented cast of “Oliver!” lifts the Paper Mill Playhouse production above the grim reality of orphanages, the underworld and corruption.

Mark Morton’s scenic design and E. Mitchell Dana’s lighting cannily re-imagine the dark and dreary workhouse, the streets of London in the 1800s and the thieves’ grimy kitchen and underground hangout. Beyond it all rises the dome of, perhps, St. Paul’s Cathedral, with shadows of dawn and darkness.

Lionel Bart’s music, lyrics and book bring zest and poignancy to this tale. It’s certainly condensed from Charles Dickens’ novel, “Oliver Twist” with its exposure of the ill treatment of orphans and the underclass.

Sign Up for E-News

Mark S. Hoebee has directed a colorful cast of characters. Tyler Moran plays the indomitable Oliver, who is sold from the workhouse to the Sowerberry’s funeral home. He is then taken by The Artful Dodger (Ethan Haberfield) to be part of Fagin’s gang of pickpockets. Oliver is learning just how to rob someone, when he is caught by a gentleman, Mr. Brownlow. But rather than turning him over to the police, he takes Oliver into his home.

The intricate plot continues, as Nancy, played by Betsy Morgan, tries to save the lad from the nasty Bill Sikes (Jose Llana.)  But Nancy is in love with Sikes and delivers the blockbuster, “As Long as he needs Me.”.

Moran as Oliver has wonderful, wistful moments with “Where is Love?” before that song, too, becomes an over-the-top show stopper. Barbara Marineau as the housekeeper, Mrs. Bedwin, delivers an appealing rendition of the same song in Act II.

Still, the best number in the production is “Consider Yourself,” which gleefully sends up the sense of camaraderie, even in dire circumstances. Joann M. Hunter’s choreography is a joy to behold, repeated again in Act II with “Who Will Buy?” as street criers, mimes and others join in the street scene.

Among the 49-member cast are a raft of children, who start the show off with “Food, Glorious Food.” Their timing in eating their gruel, with wooden spoons tapping, is priceless.

David Garrison is a sly, believable Fagin, who runs the gang of pickpockets. His “Reviewing the Situation” has clever lyrics and he delivers the number with verve. The Bumbles, who run the orphanage, contribute silliness with “I Shall Scream” and “Boy for Sale.”  John Treacy Egan and Jessica Sheridan demonstrate just how quickly passion can turn to annoyance once they’re married. Then we have the Sowerberrys, played by Michael Di Liberto and Dierdre Friel.  It’s amazing that Oliver survives this unseemly mix.

Amanda Seymour’s costume designs are amazing, from the ruffled, flouncing skirts of the prostitutes to Fagan’s faded dressing gown to the well-dressed gentleman, Mr. Brownlow, played with kindness by David Hess.

In other words, “Oliver!” has just about everything you could hope for in a musical. The early scenes have a somewhat mechanical feel, perhaps because hunger is a very real issue in our country and the world, so singing about it makes it a little hard to digest.

Still, for the holidays, Dickens’ story of hope in the midst of squalor rings true.  And it’s a refreshing change from all those area productions of “A Christmas Carol.” Performances of “Oliver!” continue at the Paper Mill Playhouse at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn through Dec. 29. For tickets, call 973-315-4343 or visit PaperMill.org. 

 The Guest Column is our readers' opportunity to write about a given issue or topic in an in-depth and educational manner.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Lance, Pascrell Bill Will Keep ‘Blue Lines’ in Towns

January 18, 2017

NEW JERSEY --- U.S. Reps. Leonard Lance (NJ-07) and Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) today took up the cause of many New Jersey municipalities and law enforcement groups by proposing the Blue Line Use Exception (BLUE) Act (H.R. 566).  Legislation that will permit ‘blue lines’ to be displayed on roadways. 

“One hundred thirty five police officers died in the line of duty in ...

New Providence Historical Society presents 'History Talks' Sponsored by Wells Fargo

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - “History Talks” is a new series of speakers in 2017 presented  by the New Providence Historical Society covering topics relating to New Providence, Union County and New Jersey.

On February 17, 2017, Edward Eckert will give a presentation on the History of Nokia Bell Labs, sponsored by Wells Fargo. For decades, the legendary research center has given birth ...

Nicholas J. Dimakos to Speak on Handling Contested Guardianships

Nicholas J. Dimakos, an Associate of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., will speak on the role of the court-appointed attorney at “Handling Contested Guardianships.”  Sponsored by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE) in cooperation with the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section and the NJSBA Senior ...

Paralympic wheelchair Fencing Is Topic At Berkeley Heights Rotary Club Meeting

Grown from a small gathering of British World War II veterans in 1948, the Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event involving athletes with a range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power, range of movement, limb deficiency, and even vision impairment. One of the most exciting Paralympic sport is Wheelchair Fencing.

At the Rotary's next lunch-time meeting, ...

Thank You Westfield!

January 14, 2017

Almost five years ago Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, opened its doors in Westfield, thanks to the vision and generosity of Dr. Gerald Glasser and the leadership of Keith Hertell, our first board chair, and all the other founding board members.  We opened our doors on the  third floor of the First United Methodist Church and started our program.

Since then we have served over ...

Union County Clerk Recognized for Tech Achievement

January 14, 2017

UNION COUNTY, NJ -- Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi was nationally recognized for her leadership in the use of electronic recording technology.

Rajoppi was presented with the national 2016 eRecording All-Star Trailblazer Award, a competitive recognition sponsored by the global business solutions company Corporation Service Company. The Trailblazer award recognizes a recording office that has ...

Ciattarelli Announces Successful Throat Cancer Surgery, Scales Back Gubernatorial Campaign Temporarily

January 15, 2017

TRENTON, NJ - State Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-16th, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, announced yesterday that he had undergone successful surgery for throat cancer in November, and will be curtailing his campaign schedule temporarily.

Gearing up for a primary campaign against several other Republicans who want to run for New Jersey, Ciattarelli, a Hillsborough ...

It’s Go Time.

This one goes out to all the juniors out there. 

I can feel you squirming in your seats, “Who me?” Yes, you!  The time has come to turn that college dial up a notch.  “But I still have so much time left!”  But you really don’t.  Ideally in a year from now you’ll be sifting through acceptance letters and weighing college options ...

Mayor's Round Table on the Road with the Rotary Club of Berkeley Heights: Volunteerism Makes a Difference in the Community

GILLETTE, NJ - Mayor's Round Table is a monthly show hosted by Dr. Donald DeFabio, who sits with Mayor Robert Woodruff to talk about current issues that affect the township as well as answer questions submitted by citizens. This month, the Mayor's Round Table went on location and were guests of the Rotary Club of Berkeley Heights on Dec. 16 at Chimney Rock Inn in ...

Ciattarelli Announces Successful Throat Cancer Surgery, Scales Back Gubernatorial Campaign Temporarily

January 15, 2017

TRENTON, NJ - State Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-16th, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, announced yesterday that he had undergone successful surgery for throat cancer in November, and will be curtailing his campaign schedule temporarily.

Gearing up for a primary campaign against several other Republicans who want to run for New Jersey, Ciattarelli, a Hillsborough ...

Back Pain & Sciatica: Fix it Forever

Back pain is the second reason after the common cold for visits to the doctor: 80 % of the American public has back pain of sufficient intensity to seek care and treatment. Sciatica, pain shooting down the leg, is often related to back pain and is successfully treated with non-surgical and natural treatment.

Before any treatment can begin for your back and leg pain an accurate diagnosis and ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_ddb615667c17d33439d1_cc08308976910c1bffc6_citizenship

Wed, January 18, 11:00 AM

Summit Public Library , Summit

Citizenship Study Group Practice for the Test

Education Government

Carousel_image_a88a67d7c51fc2b1361c_2b4f9e1efe9242037202_bridge

Wed, January 18, 12:00 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Duplicate Bridge at the Y

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_332816ffb7549fab1cf5_a508fc81b13af55e52de_zumba_with_danielle

Wed, January 18, 6:45 PM

Berkeley Heights YMCA, Berkeley Heights

Zumba With Danielle

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_201e7770238443f38ae0_1eea8d33c52f9290b02b_inclusion

Wed, January 18, 7:30 PM

Summit Free Public Library, Summit

Author talk: Jeanne D’Haem,  "Inclusion: The ...

Education

Carousel_image_4b779468f3928b0c3891_b00c18ffedd6ebd2db5e_a4aa4fb3d8fc8103f56f_touch_tennis

Thu, January 19, 12:00 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Touch Tennis

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_dcd4869c222de7d05057_acg_womens_jan_19

Thu, January 19, 12:00 PM

Convene Midtown East, New York

ACG New York Women of Leadership Summit

Business & Finance Food & Drink