WITH A TWIST - The cast of "Oliver Twist" will liven up the Rend Lake College stage next week. The show opens Nov. 5 and runs through Nov. 8. To get tickets, call 618-437-5321, Ext. 1467. Cast members rehearse in the photo above. LEFT TO RIGHT are; "Mr. Brownlow" Travis Bond (Mt. Vernon), "Rose" Emily Dixon (Pinckneyville), "Oliver Twist" Ryan Webster (Ewing), "Nancy" Audrey Blake (Benton), "Artful Dodger" Anthony Pierce (DuQuoin), "Bill Sikes" Levi Overturf (Mt. Vernon) and "Fagin" John Nalley (Benton). CLICK HERE for a larger image.
INA, Ill. – “Oliver Twist” will take the stage next week at Rend Lake College. The play will feature an elaborate set and costumes, not to mention a cast littered with local talent, according to Theatre Director Tracey Webb.
“I’m very happy with the talent this year,” Webb said. “I hope the audience will be too. I’m really excited because my lead character of Oliver Twist – 9-year-old Ryan Webster – already has his English accent down pat.”
Webster, of Macedonia, has been in many local productions, including recent performances as the dragon in the Pyramid Players’ “Mulan” and a glorious on-stage death in Benton Consolidated High School’s “Les Miserables.”
“I loved his death scene in Les Miserables,” Webb said. “He has the natural instincts of an actor. I don’t really have to tell him how to do things. He just does it. It’s really cool. He is already a seasoned actor.”
The story of Oliver Twist should be well-known to most. However, it will be a great venue to introduce Oliver to those who have never read Charles Dickens’ second novel or seen the Oscar-winning film.
“It’s about social reform, which I think will always be a relevant theme for audiences,” Webb said. “It’s a wonderful story about child labor and criminalization, and this kid who has enough pluck and spirit to survive insurmountable odds.”
Researchers say the novel may have been inspired by Robert Blincoe and his true account of living as a child laborer in a cotton mill in the 19th century. Dickens himself was a child laborer, which must have also inspired his choice of theme for the novel.
Webb said the cast is a vibrant collection of Rend Lake College students and area actors.
“The auditions were smooth and quick. I almost knew instinctively who would be right for what role. They all play off each other very well.”
Many of the actors are triple-cast this fall, she explained. A number of them are appearing in productions throughout the area, including performances with the Sesser Opera House Company and Madrigal Dinner Theatre at RLC.
“They do theatre from sun up to sun down,” she said. “They just don’t quit.”
Webb said the set for Oliver Twist is shaping up very nicely. Most of what audiences see on stage in RLC productions are the work of students in the art department and set design classes.
“It will be a very elaborate set. Fagin’s den is very elaborate.”
Webb is directing the production, which runs Nov. 5-7 at 7 p.m. each night and closes with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Nov. 8. Matt Marshall (Ewing) is her production assistant.