A Pinedale Community Theatre Presentation
by Terry Allen
October 29, 2017
"The thing about great theater is that it crosses boundaries. It doesn’t matter that this play takes place in the mid-19th century (1836) England because the themes it touches upon are still important in our current 21st century. Poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, class divisions – all are issues we continue to grapple with today. This sounds like fairly dour stuff for a musical. That’s the beauty of this show. If you take out the music, humor and joy that fill this musical, what’s happening to Oliver, Nancy, the little Thieves, Fagin, and Bill is horribly sad and tragic. But that’s life isn’t it? Even in the worst moments of our lives, we still strive to find joy, humor and beauty of life itself. To live life without that ability…seems impossible." -Mark Hennessy, Director
In observing the cast and crew work, and in my conversations with them, something else that makes "great theater" became apparent. Talented, dedicated people who practice long and hard under the great support of an experienced director, a group of talented choreographers, musical directors, stage manager, and production staff. It took two months of hard teamwork to bring this production to the community for a three night performance.
If you had visited backstage during both the final dress rehearsal and the final night’s performance you would not have seen actors rushing around in a panic, staff barking orders or anyone in tears. Instead, people were lounging around reading books, looking at their smartphones, eating snacks, playing Legos, or riding unicycles. No one was practicing their lines or doing silent dramatic gestures to an imaginary audience. They all knew their stuff and when a headphone and mic geared Kid Wrangler appeared announcing they were due on stage, they simply put their Gummy Bears down and sauntered toward the stage.
The Artful Dodger (Parker Donaldson) was on his smartphone but wasn't annoyed when I asked what his favorite part of the play was. "I love when I first encounter Oliver," he said. "I get to express myself and my character with my little brother and it leads into one of my favorite songs - Consider Yourself. Everyone is harmonious and in my opinion, it's the funnest dance."
Nancy (Sage Albrecht) said her favorite part is where she gets to save Oliver's life. "Unfortunately, I die as a result," she said.
A humble Oliver (Kyle Donaldson) said "It's not about being best or what part you have, it's about taking part." Oliver posed for a photo with a genuine 5 pound note - the exact same design as existed in 1836 and not discontinued until around 1920 or so. In the play he is bought for 3 pounds and so the folks who buy him get 2 pounds back in change.
I asked Mark Hennessy if he'd pose for a photo and asked how his experience here in Pinedale had been. "Pinedale is one of a kind," he said. "The women involved are the reason this stuff happens. This is the only place I know of this kind. Every time I come back here there is more talent and great support. I don't know if the town knows how much work it takes and how lucky they are. The cast is amazing. Oliver is really a dreadful story at first and the only reason we can bear it is the wonderful teamwork and personal growth we acquire and that makes everybody smile."
Thank you to all cast and crew who allowed me into your work space so I could show the community how you get it done.
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