Okay, full disclosure – this is a post about which I am completely and utterly biased. My daughter Bianca is in the youth chorus of “Oliver,” which just opened at Lakewood Playhouse, and so of course I think it’s a great show.
But there are other reasons, nothing to do with her, why you might think it’s a great show too. First of all is the musical itself: Written by pop music composer Lionel Bart, its 1960 London premiere got 23 curtain calls thanks to Bart’s witty lyrics and catchy songs (think “Consider Yourself,” “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” and “Food Glorious Food”). The 1968 film was a big success as well. They’re based on the novel by Charles Dickens, with all those hilariously over-the-top characters like the puppy-eyed orphan Oliver, the madcap friend Dodger, the crafty pickpocket boss Fagin and the dastardly villain Bill Sykes, all in the atmospheric 19th-century London slums.
Then there are the actors. In Lakewood’s production, Deya Ozburn brings all her usual passion to the tragic role of Nancy, interim Lakewood director John Munn makes a glowering Sykes, there are some incredibly comic actors in the side roles and Mason Lahd looks the part of the innocent Oliver. The show is done in the round, with clever set pieces and plenty of exciting entrances from all four corners.
And the kids, who play starving workhouse kids and mischievous pickpockets? Well, as I said, I’m biased, but of course I think they do a brilliant job. My daughter’s the one unicycling, tumbling and juggling in the first act.
“Oliver!” runs through Dec. 23. $28/$25/$22. Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd, Lakewood. 253-588-0042, www.lakewoodplayhouse.org