Oliver
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Elliot Karlan & Robin McNally

Oliver, the musical, now playing on the top of Mt. Tamalpais, puts an interesting twist on Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist. The interesting twist is how music adds a powerful dimension to Dickens’ rags to riches story. Oliver, with music, lyrics and script written by Lionel Bart, tightens the strings of your emotions in a way the novel never could. Songs like Food Glorious Food, Where Is Love and As Long As He Needs Me adds a dimension to Dickens’ relatively flat characters that allows audiences to really feel for them because their songs speak their souls.

Musical numbers like That’s Your Funeral and Reviewing The Situation intensifies even the comic aspects of the story. When arch pickpocket and gang leader, Fagin breaks into song and dance, it reveals the lighter, playful side of the criminal. And when Mr. Bumble chases the Widow Corney to the beat of the song I Shall Scream, it shows another foolish aspect to his bumbling character.

While the entire cast is excellent, three of the main characters – Rodney Sheriff as Fagin, Kelly Ground as Nancy and Eric Wolff as Oliver – are exceptional. Another top-notch performance is by Pat Sirianni who signs the entire musical for the hearing-impaired. Through the use of American Sign Language and expressive body language, her performance is right on key.

Free shuttle buses are available, courtesy of Bank of Marin, to take you to The Mountain Play from locations in Mill Valley. For tickets or more information call (415) 383-1100 or visit their web site: www.mountainplay.org.

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