I took Alden to see Oliver! (the musical) a few weeks ago. I had these vague but fond memories of it from my own childhood – possibly just from listening to the record that I think my mom had. The show was getting a lot of “local press,” that is, emails sent out over the staff/faculty listserv saying people should go; posters around town, etc. I knew also that various people we at least sort of knew would probably be in it.
It was a totally classic “Community Theatre” production (and just the sort of thing I love about living in a small town in Maine*). A little blurb in the back of the program states:
“community theatre, like the name implies, is theatre produced, constructed, and performed by community members. Among community enterprises, it’s a unique venture. To put on a show at SRP, we use virtually all of the resources that the community gives us. Theatre brings together at times, young and old; skilled and unskilled trades and business people; men and women; children, parents, grandparents, singles, couples, and families; and people of all shapes, sizes, and religious persuasions to create something bigger than ourselves and then present it to the people of the community for their enjoyment.”
Oh, I just love this sort of thing.
The cast included, broadly: kids from Alden’s school, faculty/colleagues from UMF (and their children) – some of whom I know better than others, UMF students, older students from the local school district, teachers from the local high school (some of whom have been mentors/hosts for my teacher ed students). More specifically: the little girl/neighbor who lives across the street from us, one of my current students, and one of the former occupants of the house we are now living in.
Alden dragged his feet at first – I think he thought it would be like a regular big screen movie, and he really has an aversion to those (too scary, still). But, I insisted. For one thing, I had bought the tickets and they were NOT CHEAP. Also, it is just the sort of thing I am always wanting to do but then never manage to make happen. This time I was bound and determined to actually do it. And, I liked the idea of sharing this with Alden. So, off we went, on a cold, cold January night.
As soon as the music (played by a small, but genuine live orchestra) began, I think we were both pretty drawn in. For me, the familiarity of the songs/music, for Alden, the newness of the experience. At intermission, I asked him what he thought. “Top notch!” he says. I offered him the choice of going home, but he said he wanted to stay. In retrospect, I wish I had taken him home. The second half is a bit darker, especially with Bill Sykes offing the lovely Nancy. Alden definitely did not like that and I think it put a bit of a damper on the experience for him.
*My above comments about it being “classic community theatre” and characteristic of small town Maine are not in any way meant to suggest that it was a low quality production. It wasn’t. Alden was right, it really was top notch.
We had some fun the next morning scouting around on YouTube and listening to bits and pieces from some old production. I’ll leave you with this, one of our favorites from the show.