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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • RFD to stage ‘Oliver’

  • As opening weekend approaches, the cast of Broadway RFD’s “Oliver” were hard at work Thursday perfecting the Dickens classic.
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  • As opening weekend approaches, the cast of Broadway RFD’s “Oliver” were hard at work Thursday perfecting the Dickens classic.
    The musical tells the story of Oliver and his adventure running away from an orphanage to engage in a life of crime that’s not quite suited for him.
    This production has generated its own set of challenges. Of the 50 cast members, over half are children.
    “We have 30 kids in this production,” said Angela Dolezal, the Broadway RFD board president. “Working with all of them has been challenging and wonderful at the same time. They are a great group of kids.”
    A challenge for director of the production, Gary Demuth, is in addition to directing, he also is starring in the villainous role of Fagen.
    “Taking off my director hat to put on my acting hat is the biggest challenge for me,” he said. “I’m used to working in Salina, so a different location brings its own set of challenges as well as working outside.”
    For this production, seventh grader Wyatt Odell was cast as the lead character Oliver. Odell is a veteran of Broadway RFD. He played the gang leader Fat Sam in the children’s production of “Bugsy Malone Junior” in June. He also attended the Broadway RFD Youth Summer Camp that was conducted prior to the “Bugsy Malone Junior” showing.
    “He’s one of the best singers around,” Demuth said. “He’s also a great little actor.”
    The cast has memorized their lines and choreography quickly, and with their hard work and dedication, the cast has come together to form a true ensemble, Demuth said.
    “Most of the children in the cast are first-timers on the stage,” Dolezal said. “I don’t believe any of the adults are new to the stage.”
    “Oliver” is a British musical based on the Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist” with music by Lionel Bart. The original show opened in 1960 at West End theater in London, then on Broadway in 1963. It later was made into a major motion picture in 1968.
    Demuth has a special connection to this show. Seventeen years ago he performed this show and hasn’t done so since.
    “It’s been so special to me to revisit this show after 17 years,” he said. “This is my third time working with Broadway RFD, and it has gotten progressively harder, but I have a great team.”
    Broadway RFD was established in 1959 and is the longest running outdoor theater in Kansas. It is a community-based, volunteer-run, not-for-profit organization dedicated to producing quality performances and educational experiences.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We try to involve as many community members in the production as possible,” Dolezal said. “We try to give our community and the surrounding areas a chance to get involved in music and the arts.”
    The show is full of young talent just beginning their acting careers and seasoned actors with years of experience under their belts to mentor the youth.
    “This is the future generation of actors right here. Maybe performing in this show will inspire them to continue with the arts and make a career out of it,” Demuth said. “I wish I had been in a show at their age.”
    “Oliver” will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and July 25 and 26 at the band shell in Swensson Park, in the 400 block of North Main Street in Lindsborg. Tickets can be purchased at the gate only, $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. For more information on Broadway RFD, visit www.broadwayrfd.org/.

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