Scene & Heard

Creswell’s Jones as ‘Oliver!’ takes audience back to Victorian England

Audriahna Jones, as Oliver, Matthew Michaels as Artful Dodger; and Zoe Goings, Quinn Branstetter, Jayshing Goolsby, Elizabeth Blakely, Jayling Goolsby, Mariah Bailey as the Fagins boys perform at The Cottage Theatre. Photo provided/Emily Bly

COTTAGE GROVE – Cottage Theatre packed the house during the opening weekend of ”Oliver!,” the classic and emotional musical of of a young orphan, played by 11-year-old Audriahna Jones, of Creswell.
The musical, directed by Janet Rust, is based on the Charles Dickens novel, ”Oliver Twist.” The film adaptation, which premiered in 1968, won six academy awards, including Best Picture.
Upon arrival, the audience is immersed in the show by the site of the set. The scene is set with multiple moving parts – stairs that change direction and plenty of entrances that can be altered at a moment’s notice. To add atmosphere, the musical is accompanied by a live band – a relatively uncommon feature for a community theatre.
The show opens with a song from the children in an orphanage, singing of the meals they wish they could have, which is pretty much anything aside from gruel; a thin, flavorless, boiled grain that they receive each and every meal.
The opening scene sets the stage for the rest of the show: an energetic ensemble made up of young children with faces beaming as they sing their hearts out.
Jones’ character, Oliver, travels to London to ”claim his fortune,” taking the audience along for the ride.
Young Oliver begins his journey as an underfed orphan who is later sold to an undertaker, to serve as his apprentice. He escapes, and in the search for a place to stay, is taken in by a group of pickpockets and their trusty guardian and leader, Fagin.
Through the many twists and turns of the story, we see Oliver looking for what is most important to him: love. His search lands him in many tricky situations, which leaves the audience at the edge of their seat, rooting for our boy all the way through.
Casting was precise, with actors and actresses prepared for the show and fully committed to their performances. Despite having a fever opening night, Jones propels the story as the show’s lead as Oliver navigates through Victorian England.
Catch ”Oliver!” through Dec. 22 at Cottage Theatre on Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for ages 18 and under. Located at 700 Village Drive. More
Oliver / Audriahna Jones
Dodger / Matthew Michaels
Fagin / Tony Rust
Bill Sikes / Kory Weimer
Nancy / Tracy Nygard
Mr. Bumble / John Wilson
Widow Corney / Trinity Riddell
Mr. Sowerberry/Mr. Brownlow/Second Man/Ensemble / Phil Dempsey
Mrs. Sowerberry/Old Sally/2nd Woman/Man/Ensemble / Nikki Pagniano
Noah/First Runner/Maid/Butler/Ensemble / Timothy Bouwhuis
Bet / Ashlee Winkler
Mrs. Bedwin/Ensemble / Cydney King
Charlotte/Milkmaid/Second Runner/Ensemble / Maia Wilhour
Charlie Bates / Jayling Goolsby
Orphan/Fagin Boys /Mariah Bailey
Orphan/Fagin Boys / Elizabeth Blakely
Orphan/Fagin Boys /Quinn Branstetter
Orphan/Fagin Boys / Zoe Goings
Orphan/Fagin Boys /Jayshing Goolsby
Orphan/Fagin Boys / Pearl Powell
Orphan / Benjamin Blakely
Orphan / Genevieve Blakely
Orphan/Boy / William Blakely
1st Woman/Matron/Ensemble / Keri Davis
Governor/First Man/Hussar/Ensemble / Blake Nelson
Chairman/Governor/First Man #2/Ensemble/Dr. Grimwig /
Tom Perkins
Rose Seller/Girl/Ensemble / Darcy Rust
Strawberry Seller/First Woman #2/Ensemble / Elise Smith
Knife Grinder/Governor/Lamplighter/Ensemble / Cameron Tunnell



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