“Consider yourself at home. Consider yourself one of the family…” These popular lyrics from the equally popular musical “Oliver!” ring true for the community theatre version of the Broadway smash, currently onstage at Theatre By The Bay.
The cast and crew total more than 60. This celebration of local performers is standard strategy for director/producer Lawrence L. Bloom and producers Barbara Koenig and Martha Stein. As usual, the approach provides an exuberant window into the creativity, ingenuity and talent of youngsters and adults alike.
Community veteran John Canning’s booming voice as Mr. Bumble compliments Sue Fiebert’s tones as Widow Corney—or is that Lila Edelkind? Undaunted by a throat ailment, Fiebert gestures on stage while Edelkind understudies her voice behind the curtain. That’s teamwork!
Gaunt, conniving Fagin is well played by Marc Crawford Leavitt, who adds a touch of humor to his generally unsympathetic character. His loyal pick-pocketing apprentice is the Artful Dodger, once played on Broadway by the late Davy Jones. Jennifer Sanchez ably fills the role, singing with strength and confidence.
The title role is performed by Isabel Robin. Her enormous smile, resonant voice and sheer onstage joy continue to bring quality to her efforts.
Long suffering Nancy (Dana Hart Lubeck) falls victim to hardened criminal Bill Sykes (Joseph Rand). Kindly but firm grandfather Mr. Brownlow is played by Eli Koenig, a familiar face on Bayside stages. Swaggering Noah Claypole (Michael McBride) bullies Oliver, annoys Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry (Drew Lubeck, Lila Edelkind) and shamelessly flirts with their daughter Charlotte (Giovanna Antonucci).
Leads and supporting players of every age respond to choreography by Jessica McCuiston and benefit from excellent musical direction by Richard Louis-Pierre, including violinist Monica Martin and her colleagues.
Clearly, the showstoppers are the bedraggled ragamuffins (costumes by Connie Lomonaco, Sandra Bordi) who fill the stage and make it shine with their energy, sincerity and pure determination. Some as little as kindergarten, they stay in character, responding to the events in front of them. They are too numerous to name but, rest assured, they did not go unnoticed.
Located at 13-00 209th Street (Bay Terrace Jewish Center), call 718-428-6363 or surf to www.spotlightonstage.org to order tix online. Detailed bios of cast members are also readily available at the site.
Winter’s last gasps can’t hold back eager and talented performers. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.