RSM Theatre to present 'Oliver!'

Thursday, April 6, 2017
(Photo Contributed) Cast members in RSM's spring production of "Oliver" are hard to work preparing for their first performance Thursday, April 6. Pictured are, front from left: Michael Koenck, Brady Portz, Mallory Behrens, Thomas Ahlers, David Grady, and Catherine Russell (sitting). Back from left: Haley Delperdang, Jared Wurth, Zachary Ruden, and Hannah Loutsch.

REMSEN -- Charles Dickens' famous novel "Oliver Twist" will soon be brought to life on a Plymouth County stage.

Students at Remsen St. Mary's are preparing to put on their spring musical and this year, the performance will be an adaption of the age old classic, "Oliver!."

"The musical is about an orphan boy who by a series of fortunate and unfortunate events, finds his family again. The story also shows how the lives of those that he meets in his journey intertwine with his own history," Director LeAnn Wiederholt said. "The story takes place in London and the musical arranger, Lionel Bart, adapts the story to that written by Charles Dickens."

Senior Catherine Russell plays Oliver; senior Tom Ahlers plays Fagin, a main antagonist and the leader of a group who steal and perform other criminal acts in exchange for shelter; senior Brady Portz plays Bill Sikes, another main antagonist and a member of Fagin's gang who is particularly vicious; senior Mallory Behrens plays Nancy, a member of Fagin's gang; and junior David Grady plays Dodger, the leader of a group of child criminals who is a skillful pickpocket.

Wiederholt co-directs the musical along with Paul Ahlers, Mary Ann Arens, Jeremiah Garrigues-Cortelyou, Kim Phillips, and Sue Theisen.

There are two acts in the musical and a total of 11 scenes.

In total about 80 students are involved with the performance including almost the entire fifth grade class.

"Probably, the most challenging is not the acts or scenes, it has been getting all the kids together for rehearsals. With our boys basketball team playing at state this year, our practices began later and then, we had four cast members gone for about ten practices as they attended the Honduras Service Trip with Gehlen Catholic," Wiederholt said. "You could say that finding time to get everything accomplished for this production has been the greatest challenge."

"'Oliver!' wouldn't have been possible if everyone at RSM -- staff, students, and parents -- hadn't worked together to find time in their hectic schedules," she continued.

Due to the age of the students involved, Wiederholt explained there had to be some modifications to the script.

"Also, new ideas keep cropping up so changes in the script occurred that we had to work out," Wiederholt said.

She added the leadership shown by the high school students with the younger students was a highlight of rehearsals.

Phillips concurred.

"Our students are such great leaders. It's so rewarding to watch the high school students teach the fifth graders their dances. Their ideas are awesome," Phillips said. "I honestly don't know what we'd do without their leadership. Obviously, the final product always puts a smile on our faces and makes us realize just why we continue to be involved."

There will be three performances: 1 p.m., Thursday, April 6; 7 p.m., Saturday, April 8; and 1 p.m., Sunday, April 9. All performances will be in the Sandy Augustine Memorial Gym.

Tickets will be available at the door and cost $8 for adults, $3 for high school students, $2 for grade school students, and ages three and under are free.

All proceeds from "Oliver!" will go to the school.