Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Oliver" Given Snappy Performance at Musicarnival

Cleveland Press August 16, 1966

It may be in a tent and the sets are necessarily simple, but the production of "Oliver" which is playing Musicarnival this week is no poor country cousin to the original company which Broadway producer David Merrick toured through Cleveland not so long ago.

The cast is strong, the direction is well paced, the ensemble numbers sparkle, and the total package is an appealing one

RECENTLY I REVIEWED another summer theater production of this show which was adequate in all departments but never seemed to catch hold. It seemed that "Oliver," stripped of its elaborate sets, revolving stage and tricky effects could not survive modest production.

The company that has brought "Oliver," to the local tent theater proves it can be done. It also is apparent that the show remains no job for amateurs, which these people are not.

"Consider Yourself at Home" is a wonderful number for the whole company, but a real rouser when smartly choreographed and executed by people who know what they are about.

"WHERE IS LOVE," sung by that homeless waif Oliver Twist, can range from dull to cloying, but when done properly strikes the right note of appealing pathos.

Director Richard Altman has kept his cast busy and moving, but credit must be given to performers who can take direction and do something with it.

Young Darel Glaser is an appealing Oliver, a smart young actor who knows what to do with himself even when he doesn't have a line to speak or a song to sing. He has a wavering but sincere falsetto that can suggest a tremble without overdoing.

AND TAKE A LOOK at John Astin, will you. You may not recognize the head of television's Addams Family in long whiskers and wig, but you will discover a wonderful Fagin, that master of young thieves. Though a broadly comic portrayal, Astin's approach also shows intelligence in working out the nuances of the role.

Yin Sun as Nancy can belt out a song with the best of them; and Danny Sewell, from the original cast, is a mighty mean Bill Sykes.

The entire cast, both in physical appearance and costuming (dirty and raggedy, not prettied up) suggest the Cruikshank illustrations from any number of Dickens' books.

Lionel Bart's music and lyrics grow more appealing on every hearing.

"Oliver" is a great show for the entire family with its stage full of dirty, dancing urchins; its action; and its bright music.