By Tyler BIDDLE
A modern twist on the Charles Dickens classic is coming to Glendale next month with the help of community families and volunteers. On Aug. 2, the Stepping Stone Players will present their rendition of Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!” at Hoover High School with director Alan Hunt at the helm. The multigenerational production will bring over 60 children and adults to the stage including 14 families.
The Stepping Stone Players is a non-profit family-oriented community theatre group located in Glendale. The theatre group was formed in 2000 by a group of moms concerned about the quality of arts programs in their local schools. Their first production took place at Hoover High School and since then the players have worked hard to give young people a chance to practice theater in a professional setting. Many of their young actors and backstage workers are from the La Crescenta area as well.
Over the years the Stepping Stone Players have built a reputation for providing quality summer experiences and instruction in musical theater. It serves as one of the best summer programs for families in the Glendale area by providing a way for parents and children to bond and have fun while working together to create something that strives to match professional quality. Previous productions include “Willy Wonka,” “Footloose” and “The Music Man.” Oftentimes entire families will be involved in the productions, with parents and their children acting on stage at the same time.
“The rehearsals are a family affair,” said Mary Weiss Creith who is in the play. “We have the soundtrack in the car and we delight in singing along and discussing the background of Dickens. It has just been so much fun and such an amazing opportunity for family bonding.”
The group is also a unique opportunity for amateurs interested in musical theater to work with professionals. Younger actors are often mentored throughout the production by more experienced troop members and each cast member, beginner or veteran, is held to the same standard of professional work ethic. Kids learn discipline and craft simultaneously as they are given assignments to learn lines, choreography and music on a deadline.
Described as “a triumphant musical about a boy with a big heart,” “Oliver!” is a British musical based on the novel “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens. The music and lyrics where composed by Lionel Bart and it debuted in 1960 in the West End. It then made it onto Broadway in 1963 and has since been developed into a feature film and has seen numerous revivals in the ’90s and the new millennium. It was the first musical adaptation of a Dickens novel to become a hit.
“Oliver!” will be performed in Hayhurst Hall at Hoover High School on Glenwood Road in Glendale on Aug. 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets will be sold at the door and online.
For information on making donations or buying tickets online, visit www.steppingstoneplayers.com.