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Sixty-two actors in one dickens of a stage production

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Cathy Dobson

Even during dress rehearsal for Theatre Sarnia’s production of Oliver the tension and exhilaration of a live theatre performance is palpable.

“This play is so much fun,” says David Evans, who plays Fagin. “It’s also so much stress.”

Evans is relatively new to Theatre Sarnia, having been away from the stage for about 20 years.

“A job that required a lot of nights made it impossible,” he said.

But a new day job as a group benefits specialist has given him time for the big commitment necessary for a lead role.

This show is near to Evans’ heart. His firsttheatre experience ever was playing Oliver Twist when he was nine years old at Sarnia’s St. Benedict’s School.

David Evans, who plays Fagin
David Evans, who plays Fagin

The combination of British drama and light humour makes Oliver one of his favourites to this day, said Evans.

“And with Fagin, I can bring a little of myself to the character. I was born in Ireland, so making people laugh comes naturally.”

Theatre Sarnia’s production, directed by Anthony Fracalanza with Cy Giacomin as musical director and Sarah Matuzik as choreographer, has a large cast of 62 actors ranging in age from four years to 78 years.

Several of those cast members are the boys who pickpocket for Fagin and the Artful Dodger.

“I love working with a lot of kids,” said Evans. “Some of them are ridiculously talented and give me so much energy to feed off.

“There are many challenges in a play like this but we’re having a great time.”

Two actors have been cast in the role of Oliver. Ben Adair and Elliott Millson play the endearing young fellow who runs away from an orphanage only to meet up with the underhanded Fagin.

“There are some very dark moments,” said Evans. “It’s Dickens after all. But amidst all this poverty there are lost boys who are found.”

Of course, there’s also show-stopping dance numbers like ‘Who Will Buy?’ with more than 40 performers onstage.

The attraction of Oliver, according to Evans, is the familiar story and songs like ‘Consider Yourself,’ ‘Food, Glorious Food,’ and ‘I’ll Do Anything.’

“It’s a classic,” he said. “Everyone has either seen it or read it, but every production brings something new to it.

“This one has a wonderful set, a fantastic cast and the dances are spectacles.

“Even better, the people performing these spectacles are your next door neighbours. That’s what’s so great about community theatre.”

This show has even cast a local dog named Reece as Bill Sykes’ pooch. Dave Mitchell who plays Sykes is also choreographing the fight scenes.

Oliver! Presented by Theatre Sarnia is at the Imperial Theatre May 12,13 and May 17 – 20 at 7:30 p.m. There’s also a 2 p.m. matinee on May 14.

Tickets are $35 adult; $30 seniors; $25 young adults; and $17.50 children at the theatre box office, 519-344-7469 or online at


Grease is the word

For lovers of Grease, about 50 students from Great Lakes Secondary School are performing the popular musical May 11 – 13 at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium.

Tickets, $10 adults and $8 seniors and students, are available at the door or school admin office. Two matinees are also scheduled for elementary students.

Directors for the show are Diane Vienneau and Barb Organ, who come from a 20-year tradition of musicals at St. Clair Secondary School.

Several GLSS teachers are also involved. The band is comprised of current and former school board staff.


If you have an idea about the cultural fabric of our community, contact [email protected] or call 266-932-0985.

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