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Oliver to be performed by Riverbend Youth Company

By Janine Leffler

Get ready for the Riverbend Youth Company Fall production of OliverOliver is the musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.  Oliver features Stephen Edelbleut of Wilton as Oliver, Ben Erdody of Milford as the Artful Dodger,  Jonathan Edelbluet of Wilton as Fagin and Kat Feraco of Milford as Nancy as well as many other talented young performers from the  Souhegan Valley area.

Renee Reeves, a homeschooled   high school senior from Merrimack is playing Mrs. Sowerberry. Reeves has not had  very many speaking roles in previous shows she has done with Riverbend Youth Company so this has been a new experience for her.  She said the both the challenge and intrigue behind her character is the fact that she gets to be creepy.  She  elaborated by saying “The Sowerberrys are different from any other villains in Oliver in that they’re less sympathetic than Fagin but are played much more comically than Sykes. Jeremy and I have to find the happy medium between creepy and funny.”  She went on to say “The Sowerberry’s two scenes are probably the darkest–what would Dickens be without some moody creepiness? There’s a song about funerals, a certain person gets locked in a coffin. Plot wise, these two scenes are pretty much dedicated to getting the audience to pity Oliver. It’s my job (and Jeremy’s, and Megan’s, and Ethan’s, too!) to entertain them as the story rises.”


For Patrick McKnight, a senior at Souhegan High School, who plays Mr. Bumble the most fulfilling  part of this process has been working with the younger  cast who are playing the orphans and Fagin’s gang. “It’s great to see the younger kids coming up to fill the shoes of the people who have graduated.”  The most interesting part about playing his character is the dramatic shift in emotions from scene to scene. The example he gave was being stern with the orphans in one scene and being flirtatious with Widow Corney, played by Megan Hammes a sophomore at Milford High School, in the next.


The most fulfilling part of this process for Megan Hammes,  a sophomore at Milford High School has been working with the younger children in the cast. “It’s so amazing to watch the younger kids fall in love with theater. It’s always been a really big part of my life, and it’s incredible to see them having so much fun onstage, too.” Hammes continued by saying that she looks forward to the performances as the approach in November. “I am honestly so happy and excited to be working with such an incredible cast and crew and to be playing such a fun and crazy role. I’m also a little nervous, but I guess that’s normal too. I know the whole cast will continue to be amazing when the performances start.”


At this point in the production process  Act One has been blocked and the cast is hard at work with blocking Act Two.  Director Tom Partridge said that up to this point in the process the most interesting thing has been  thinking about all the scenes and fitting them together without downtime. “I had to adjust some of the singing parts to move out to the front of the stage so the scene changes can be done behind the curtains.”  He went on to say, “I have been really impressed with the level of talent we now have at the Riverbend Youth Theater Co and also with the number of younger kids who will be on stage for the first time.  This shows that the Riverbend Youth Co is getting a good name in Youth acting circles and that we are putting on excellent shows for families to see.”  Partridge looks forward to the performances as they get nearer. “With the talent, experience and abilities of our main show cast members and the enthusiasm of the rest of the cast; I know this is going to be one of those shows that will be talked about for the next few years. Everyone that comes to see the show will be happy they attended and every kid in the show will remember the experience for the rest of their lives.”


Oliver will be performed at the Amato Center For The Performing Arts   56 Mt Vernon Street in Milford   November 9th-12th.  Showtimes are November  9th and 10th at 7:30 and November 10th and 11th at 1:00. You won’t want to miss this show! Tickets are $12.00 for adults and $8.00 for students and seniors.


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