Is music a big deal in the South Webster? Well, the answer can be learned by visiting South Webster High School this weekend, to watch the collected work of 125 students, 37 percent of the student body, bring to life a grand production of “Oliver!”
“So many people are involved,” Rhonda Mays, music teacher at South Webster High School, explained. “I wouldn’t even consider what we have here a theatre department, it is just an extension of our school. We are very proud that our teachers, students, and community all work together to accomplish this goal. I believe it is a big, big event for our community.”
Mays explained that she prefers to make her show choices a learning experience for students and that “Oliver!” was no exemption.
“This is a totally different time period for our kids and I thought I had the talent to pull it off this year,” Mays claimed. “I also thought it would be neat for the students to tackle the British accent.”
Mays was proud to say that the students have responded well to the show, while they were hesitant at first, and have even incorporated what they’ve learned in other aspects of their education.
“I sat in world history today and the teacher was discussing Charles Dickens and the Industrial Revolution,” Mays said. “They were making ties between everything and talking about social class, pickpockets, and the orphans. It has been neat to explore the themes of the show deeper.”
“Oliver!” is based on the Charles Dickens classic, “Oliver Twist.”
Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc. owns the theatrical rights and says that the show will engage the audience with its pathos and drama, while delighting everyone with its outstanding musical numbers, such as “Food, Glorious Food,” “I’d Do Anything,” “Where is Love?,” “Consider Yourself,” “As Long As He Needs Me,” “Reviewing the Situation,” and more, which are all considered musical theatre classics. In the show, Dickens’ characters are brought to life—perhaps larger than life—with all their facets glowing.
Mays said that she takes her job seriously and “Oliver!” has been an endearing way to accomplish it.
“The kids know it is a big deal and they treat it that way,” Mays explained. “It is a big deal for me as well, as a music teacher, because I want them to love the theatre and appreciate music. I can only hope that they will, hopefully, get out and appreciate the arts.”
Zachary Bressler, senior, has been involved in the music program for four years and says he cannot imagine not being involved in his school music department.
“’Oliver!’ is definitely different, especially for our region,” Bressler said. “I’ve watched a lot of kids who didn’t want to do it, because of the topic and the accent, change their mind and jump in, loving it. I think it is a fun show and I am sure it shows on stage.”
Bressler said that he loves to entertain people and enjoys big personalities and using accents, so the show has been a hit with him from the beginning.
“When we first talked about the show, I knew there were a lot of roles, but I ultimately wanted to be Mr Bumble (who he plays), because I feel like he has more of an opera voice and I love using a big voice, I really do.”
Bressler said he is excited to open curtain, and looks forward to performing with his brother and sister Jeeps.
“I hope we can keep building and building and building on it,” Bressler said. “I just try to be an example for the younger kids and I am just pushing really hard. I feel like are all doing really good, actually.”
“Oliver!” will open curtain Saturday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 15 at 2:30 p.m. Admission is $20 for reserved seats, $10 for general admission, and $5 for students. Friday’s performance, which is a dinner theatre option, is no longer available. The performance will be held in Bloom-Vernon Elementary School.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.