Oliver! Director’s Notes

Caroline Good

I’m very excited to be directing Oliver!  The music is so beautiful and catchy that it’s hard not to walk away singing “Consider Yourself” or “Who Will Buy,” or just chatting in the car all the way home speaking in a Cockney accent.  There is a reason that it is continually being revived and performed, and we’re thrilled to be bringing it back to PCPH! 

We have a stellar production team that will be working hard to put together a show of the highest quality.  Joshua Bain and Sarah Armitage will be choreographing, Ric McFadden will be directing the vocals, Amy Tharp will be directing the orchestra pit, Noah Pettit and Cameron Wunderlich will be our formidable production stage managers, Linda Gjesvold will be designing and heading the set building, Dustin Bond will be designing the lights, and Joshua Bain will also be assistant directing.  Shelly McFadden and I will be heading up the costume design and coordination as well.  

We are currently looking for stage crew, lighting and sound operators, costume crew, instrumentalists for our orchestra, and anyone handy with a drill or a paintbrush to help bring the world of Oliver alive onstage.  

For specific roles for adults and youth, please visit the “Cast & Crew” page for information.  In addition to memorable and fun adult roles, we’re looking to cast 16 from the younger set (boys and girls ages 10-18) to fill the roles of the workhouse kids, Fagin’s troupe, and towns children. Also, it is not unprecedented for a girl to play Oliver, so to all you girls out there who are interested in the role, bring it on!  Auditions will be held at the playhouse April 10th 3-5pm and April 11th 7-9pm.  Please keep an eye on our website for more information.

I’m looking for a cast that can work together as a tight ensemble.  Acting truthfully and honestly is one of my mantras that I hope will help to bring these wonderful characters in Oliver to life!  Having great actors that can sing, to me, is just as important as having great singers who can act.  I also teach acting, so I would like to encourage anyone who is hesitant about auditioning to feel reassured that I intend to collaborate with you and to provide as many tools to you as possible to help you achieve your personal goals as a performer.  I would also ask that all who are cast, in turn, make the production a priority so that we are completely ready for opening night.

The story of Oliver! seems sentimental and simple, but it is also a story that comments on the vast disparity between classes during the era of Charles Dickens—a disparity that caused so many children (and adults) to be left behind living in harsh and squalid conditions through no fault of their own.  These conditions existed because of a disregard for the less fortunate.  Women died of childbirth at alarming rates, infant mortality was off the charts, and the parents who did survive against the odds often had to give up their children because they could no longer support them. They often ended up in the notorious Victorian workhouses, continuing the vicious cycle of poverty.  No matter how grim the circumstances, however, the feisty, but adorable, persistent, and trusting Oliver keeps a positive outlook on life.

Our production will attempt to reflect a more realistic, human portrayal of the Dickensian world of Oliver Twist that transcends the darkness of the story and finds the brighter moments.  Dickens wrote the story of Oliver Twist as a tale of woe to awaken the masses to the horrific conditions, the corruption, and the innocence that never gets a chance to see the light of day under the oppressive forces of class struggle and greed. Oliver is forced into thievery because of the hunger and despair of his unfortunate poverty.  This makes his resilience amidst dire and desperate circumstances all the more poignant for us. 

He helps us to see the important things in life: family, regardless of blood; humanity, regardless of class; and genuine perseverance, regardless of a grim outlook. Through his fierce and fighting nature, he survives. By endearing himself to others willing to make sacrifices and do the right thing, he finds his family and love in the end.