FULL COMPANY ANNOUNCED FOR ARENA STAGE’S OLIVER!
DIRECTED BY MOLLY SMITH IN REIMAGINED PRODUCTION
BLENDING CONTEMPORARY AND VICTORIAN LONDON
OCTOBER 30, 2015-JANUARY 3, 2016
*** Broadway veterans Jeff McCarthy, Kyle Coffman, Ian Lassiter and Paul Vogt join
Eleasha Gamble and young actors Jake Miller and Aidan Pritchard in 26-member cast ***
(Washington, D.C.) Molly Smith directs her 30th production as Artistic Director of Arena Stage with a gritty and relevant take on the Tony Award-winning musical Oliver!, blending the chaotic worlds of 19th-century Victorian London with 2015 London. Smith’s new in-the-round staging infuses a modern edge to the classic musical about an innocent orphan thrown into the dark world of double-dealing thieves and conmen, highlighting the disparity between classes and dangerous life on London’s streets today. Featuring a remarkable score including “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two,” “Consider Yourself,” “Where is Love?” and “Food, Glorious Food,” Oliver! runs October 30, 2015-January 3, 2016 in the Fichandler Stage at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.
“If we aren’t doing theater about this moment in time, what are we doing?” asks Smith. “I love to direct the gold-standard musicals because they are brilliant and can be interpreted for our time. One in 25 young people are living on the streets of London today. The radical divide between the rich and the poor is at its highest level in London since the Victorian age. Dickens would be shocked. With this production we’ll focus on blending London during the Victorian era and London 2015 to create this classic story for today.”
Oliver! will feature Broadway veterans Jeff McCarthy (The Pirate Queen, Urinetown, Side Show, seen previously in Arena’s You, Nero) as Fagin, Kyle Coffman (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Newsies, West Side Story) as Artful Dodger, Ian Lassiter (War Horse) as Bill Sykes and Paul Vogt (Hairspray, Chicago, three seasons on MADtv) as Mr. Bumble. They join the previously announced Helen Hayes Award winner Eleasha Gamble (Arena Stage’s Oklahoma!) as Nancy. Two Northern Virginia newcomers discovered through an extensive citywide casting search—9-year-old Jake Miller and 10-year-old Aidan Pritchard—rotate in the title role of the scrappy young orphan Oliver.
Included in the lineup of D.C.-area actors are Ian Anthony Coleman as Long Song Seller, Catherine Flye as Rose Seller/Old Sally, Rayanne Gonzales as Widow Corney/Strawberry Seller, Jesse Palmer as Bet, Dorea Schmidt as Mrs. Sowerberry/Mrs. Bedwin, Kyle Schliefer as Noah Claypole, Thomas Adrian Simpson as Mr. Brownlow, Stephen Gregory Smith as Dr. Grimwig, Tom Story as Mr. Sowerberry, Lara Zinn as Charlotte and swings Jane Bunting and Jimmy Mavrikes.
The cast also includes Lauren Gemelli as Milk Maid/Old Lady, Chaz Jackson as Charley Bates and Kyle Vaughn as Knife Grinder. Local youth Mohammed Badawi, Arena Stage camper Sebastian Gervase, Henry Niepoetter and Ethan Van Slyke round out the company as workhouse boys and members of Fagin’s gang.
Smith reassembles many of her key creative team members from last season’s Fiddler on the Roof, including Choreographer Parker Esse, who returns for his 10th production with Arena Stage and eighth production with Smith, and Music Director Paul Sportelli, a mainstay at Canada’s Shaw Festival for the past 17 seasons. Also reuniting with Smith from her Fiddler team are Set Designer Todd Rosenthal and Lighting Designer Colin K. Bills, who are joined by Costume Designer Wade Laboissonniere and Sound Designers Joshua Horvath and Ray Nardelli.
Lionel Bart (Music, Lyrics & Book) was born in London in 1930. After joining friends in a group called “The Cavemen” featuring Tommy Steele, Lionel’s song “Rock with the Caveman” helped Steele launch his career, which would feature many of Lionel’s songs. Lionel opened two stage shows, Lock Up Your Daughters and Fings Ain’t Wot They Used t’Be, and also wrote the chart-topping singles “Living Doll” for Cliff Richard and “Do You Mind” for Anthony Newley. Oliver! opened at the New Theatre in 1960 and ran for over 2,500 performances. It opened in New York in 1962 to great acclaim, winning the coveted Tony Award for its creator. The classic ballad “As Long As He Needs Me” provided a huge hit for Shirley Bassey. Lionel launched three further shows—Blitz! (1962), Maggie May (1964) and Twang!! (1965). He continued to write for the cinema, notably “From Russia with Love” from the second Bond movie. In 1968, Oliver! was transformed into a lavish feature film, collecting six Oscars with the soundtrack album going gold. Lionel wrote and starred in the Abbey National Building Society TV advert with the accompanying single “Happy Endings.” In 1994, Big Audio Dynamite revived “Rock with the Caveman,” featured in The Flintstones movie, and Oliver! was given a revival at the London Palladium, produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Sam Mendes. Lionel’s international reputation as a composer, lyricist and playwright spanned more than four decades and included nine Ivor Novello Songwriting Awards and numerous Oscars. He was the first British composer to receive a Tony Award. In 1997, Lionel was honored with a Variety Club Silver Heart for contribution to the world’s musical theater.
Molly Smith (Director) has served as artistic director of Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. since 1998. Her directing credits include The Originalist, Fiddler on the Roof, Camp David, Mother Courage and Her Children, Oklahoma!, A Moon for the Misbegotten, My Fair Lady, The Great White Hope, The Music Man, Orpheus Descending, Legacy of Light, The Women of Brewster Place, Cabaret, An American Daughter, South Pacific, Agamemnon and His Daughters, Coyote Builds North America, All My Sons and How I Learned to Drive at Arena Stage. Her directorial work has also been seen at the Shaw Festival in Canada, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, Centaur Theatre in Montreal and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979-1998. Molly has been a leader in new play development for over 30 years. She is a great believer in first, second and third productions of new work and has championed projects like How I Learned to Drive; Passion Play, a cycle and Next to Normal. She has worked alongside playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Lawrence Wright, Karen Zacarías, John Murrell, Eric Coble, Charles Randolph-Wright and many others. She led the re-invention of Arena Stage, focusing on the architecture and creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and by positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists. During her time with the company, Arena Stage has workshopped more than 100 productions, produced 31 world premieres, staged numerous second and third productions and been an important part of nurturing seven projects that went on to have a life on Broadway. In spring 2014, Molly made her Broadway debut directing The Velocity of Autumn, following its critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage in fall 2013.
Select Cast Biographies (in alphabetical order)
Kyle Coffman (Artful Dodger) made his Broadway debut as an original cast member in the 2009 revival of West Side Story (A-rab), which first ran at The National Theatre in D.C. He was also seen in the original Broadway casts of Newsies (Henry) and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Christopher Lyon, u/s Deputy). Kyle was featured on the cast albums of all three shows and served as the original Newsies logo. He has appeared twice on the Tony Awards, as well as multiple performances on TV shows including Good Morning America and The View. In 2012, he had a featured role in the film Someday This Pain Will Be Useful, starring Lucy Liu and Marcia Gay Harden. Kyle is thrilled to be playing his childhood hero in his first production at Arena Stage!
Eleasha Gamble (Nancy) is delighted to be back at Arena Stage, where she was last seen in The Power of Two and as Laurey in Oklahoma! (Helen Hayes nomination). D.C. credits include Arena Stage (The Women of Brewster Place), Signature Theatre (Chess, Into the Woods), the Kennedy Center (Broadway Three Generations), Ford’s Theatre (Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical for Civil War; Little Shop of Horrors; A Christmas Carol), Round House Theatre (Once on This Island, Helen Hayes nomination) and Toby’s Dinner Theatre (Ragtime, Helen Hayes nomination). Eleasha made her Off-Broadway debut in the Kathie Lee Gifford musical Under the Bridge and performed in the national tour of The Lion King. Regional credits include Dreamgirls and Big Fish. Dedicated to Joe and Claretta.
Ian Lassiter (Bill Sykes) was seen on Broadway in War Horse (Lincoln Center). Off-Broadway credits include An Octaroon (Theater for a New Audience), Antony and Cleopatra (Public Theater, RSC Swan Theatre, UK), Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (Kazino) and Mission Drift (co-writer/performer, Connelly Theater). New York/regional credits include Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare & Co), An Iliad: Guerrillas at Troy (Continuum Company, Florence, Italy), Henry V (Two River Theater), Ash Girl (Connelly Theater), Martian Chronicles (Fordham Alumni Co), Land O’Fire (Wings Theater), September 12th (Nuyorican Poets’ Café) and Fitz and Walloughs Get it in the End (NYC Fringe). His first film Mixed Up is currently being submitted to the festival circuit and additional Indie films include Queen of Glory, Time After and King Theo Live! Ian earned his MFA from NYU Tisch, Graduate Acting Program.
Jeff McCarthy (Fagin) happily returns to Arena Stage, where he was last seen in You, Nero. Other D.C. appearances include the world premiere of Fox on the Fairway at Signature Theatre and Mame at the Kennedy Center. Jeff has enjoyed a theater, TV, film and recording career that has taken him to Asia, Europe and Africa. Leading roles in New York include Chicago, Urinetown, Sideshow, Southern Comfort, Zorba, Sympathetic Magic, Dream True, Smile and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Regional credits include The Front Page, Kunstler, Sweeney Todd, The Price, Follies, All My Sons, The Underpants and hundreds more. TV credits include The Good Wife, Schweitzer (title role), Star Trek, Designing Women, Law and Order and Cheers. Film credits include Starting Out in the Evening, Robocop 2, Consent, Eve of Destruction and Cliffhanger.
Jake Miller (Oliver) is thrilled to be playing Oliver at Arena Stage. He was previously seen as Tiny Tim in the original cast of Scrooge No More at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia and will perform as a special guest singer at the US Open Tennis Tournament in September in Flushing, New York. In addition to performing, Jake is a straight-A student in the fourth grade and likes to play tennis. Jake would like to thank his mom and dad, Jordyn, Jackson and his family and friends for the love and support. A special thank you to his manager Colette Palmerio of CP Talent, his agent Michelle Thompson of Avalon Artists and Elysabeth Muscat at the Peabody Institute for nurturing his voice.
Aidan Pritchard (Oliver) is ecstatic to make his professional theater debut. He has been part of the Arlington Children’s Chorus since 2011, performing for both Ballet West’s and Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center, the U.S. Department of Justice Crime Victims’ Service Awards and Vice President Joe Biden’s Delaware Inaugural Ball. He has co-written productions for the Arlington Public Schools music program and trained with the Levine School of Music and Encore Stage & Studio. Aidan is a fifth grader and enjoys singing, reading, producing music videos and playing with his dog, Leaf. He would like to thank Arlington Children’s Chorus Artistic Director Kevin Carr; his parents, Evan and Julie; his sisters, Anna and Emma; his grandmothers, Pat and Linda; and his lifelong nanny, Kade, for believing in him and helping him follow his dreams.
Paul Vogt (Mr. Bumble) makes his Arena Stage debut. Broadway credits include Amos Hart in Chicago and Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, and he also replaced Harvey Fierstein in the Las Vegas production. Regionally he was the first male to perform as Ursula in Disney’s The Little Mermaid (The Muny). Regional credits include Elf and A Funny Thing Happened… (Paper Mill), Hairspray (numerous productions) and Minsky’s (Ahmanson). Paul can be seen in Valentine’s Day and Princess Diaries 2, and audiences may know him from MADtv. On NBC’s The Rerun Show, he played Mrs. Edna Garrett from The Facts of Life. Paul’s voice can be heard in the film Igor and in the upcoming animated short Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters and Norm of the North. Film credits include Blonde Ambition, Good Boy, Lilo and Stitch 2 and Raising Helen. Television credits include Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, Hannah Montana, Arrested Development, Reno 911, Maximum Bob and Chicago Hope.
The creative team for Oliver! includes Wig Designer Anne Nesmith, Fight Choreographer David Leong, Dialects by Lynn Watson, Associate Director Anita Maynard-Losh, Child Consultant Erin Weaver, Assistant Choreographer Tony Neidenbach, Assistant Music Director Brad Gardner, Stage Manager Susan R. White and Assistant Stage Manager Kristen Mary Harris.
For additional cast and creative team bios please visit arenastage.org/shows-tickets/the-season/productions/oliver.
Oliver! is generously sponsored by AT&T. Additional support is provided by Karen and Edward Burka and the Harry and Fay Burka Foundation and Sylvia Kay Greenberg.
Connect with our shows beyond the performance at a post-show conversation with artists and staff, November 5 following the 8:00 p.m. performance; November 17 following the 7:30 p.m. performance; and November 18, December 9 and December 15 following the noon performance.
Music, lyrics and book by Lionel Bart
Directed by Molly Smith
In the Fichandler Stage / October 30, 2015-January 3, 2016
ABOUT: Consider yourself invited to the theatrical event of the holiday season. Charles Dickens’ unforgettable characters burst to life in this Tony Award-winning musical. Artistic Director Molly Smith’s new in-the-round staging blends the chaotic worlds of 19th-century Victorian London with 2015 London and infuses a modern edge to the classic story about an innocent orphan thrown into the dark world of double-dealing thieves and conmen. Bursting with jubilant songs, including “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two,” “Consider Yourself,” “Where is Love?” and the scrumptious “Food, Glorious Food,” director Molly Smith (Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!) will serve up a musical feast for the eyes and ears that will have every theater-lover calling out for “More!”
Workhouse Boy/Fagin’s Gang: Mohammed Badawi
Artful Dodger: Kyle Coffman
Long Song Seller: Ian Anthony Coleman
Rose Seller/Old Sally: Catherine Flye
Nancy: Eleasha Gamble
Milk Maid/Old Lady: Lauren Gemelli
Workhouse Boy/Fagin’s Gang: Sebastian Gervase
Widow Corney/Strawberry Seller: Rayanne Gonzales
Charley Bates: Chaz Jackson
Bill Sykes: Ian Lassiter
Fagin: Jeff McCarthy
Oliver: Jake Miller
Workhouse Boy/Fagin’s Gang: Henry Niepoetter
Bet: Jesse Palmer
Oliver: Aidan Pritchard
Noah Claypole: Kyle Schliefer
Mrs. Sowerberry/Mrs. Bedwin: Dorea Schmidt
Mr. Brownlow: Thomas Adrian Simpson
Workhouse Boy/Fagin’s Gang: Ethan Van Slyke
Dr. Grimwig: Stephen Gregory Smith
Mr. Sowerberry: Tom Story
Knife Grinder: Kyle Vaughn
Mr. Bumble: Paul Vogt
Charlotte: Lara Zinn
Swings: Jimmy Mavrikes, Jane Bunting
Director: Molly Smith
Choreographer: Parker Esse
Music Director: Paul Sportelli
Set Designer: Todd Rosenthal
Costume Designer: Wade Laboissonniere
Lighting Designer: Colin K. Bills
Sound Designers: Joshua Horvath, Ray Nardelli
Wig Designer: Anne Nesmith
Fight Choreographer: David Leong
Dialects: Lynn Watson
Associate Director: Anita Maynard-Losh
Child Consultant: Erin Weaver
Assistant Choreographer: Tony Neidenbach
Assistant Music Director: Brad Gardner
Stage Manager: Susan R. White
Assistant Stage Manager: Kristen Mary Harris
Plan Your Visit
TICKETS: Tickets for Oliver! are $50-$99, subject to change and based on availability, plus applicable fees. For information on savings programs such as pay-your-age tickets, student discounts, family fun packs, Southwest Nights and hero’s discounts, visit arenastage.org/shows-tickets/single-tickets/savings-programs.
Tickets may be purchased online at arenastage.org, by phone at 202-488-3300 or at the Sales Office at 1101 Sixth St., SW, D.C.
Sales Office/Subscriptions: 202-488-3300
Group Sales Hotline for 10+ Tickets: 202-488-4380
TTY for deaf patrons: 202-484-0247
Info for patrons with disabilities: 202-488-3300
Sunday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
Weekday matinee at noon on 11/18, 12/9, 12/15 & 12/31
Full calendar: tickets.arenastage.org/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=20523
Open-captioned performances: 11/18 at 7:30 p.m. & 12/17 at 8:00 p.m.
Audio-described performance: 11/21 at 2:00 p.m.
CATWALK CAFÉ: Prix fixe meals are now available at the Catwalk Café and include a choice of soup or salad, main entrée and dessert. Pre-ordered meals are only $22 ($25 if purchased that day). To pre-order and see the menu, call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org/plan-your-visit/the-cafe/. The Catwalk Café opens two hours before the show, and reservations are recommended.
To pre-order drinks from the Catwalk Café for up to 50% savings ($6 house wine and beer), visit tickets.arenastage.org/cart/precart.aspx?p=1007.
METRO: Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is only one block from the Waterfront-SEU Metro station (Green Line). When exiting the station, walk west on M Street toward Sixth Street, and the main entrance to the Mead Center is on the right.
PARKING: Parking is available in Arena Stage’s on-site garage. Subscribers may purchase parking in advance for $16. Single ticket buyers may purchase parking in advance for $19 or on the day of the performance for $22 on a first-come, first-served basis. Limited handicapped parking is available by reservation. Advanced parking must be reserved by calling 202-488-3300. The entrance to the Mead Center garage is on Maine Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets, and the garage closes one hour after the day’s last performance ends. Patrons can also park at the Public Parking Garage at 1101 Fourth Street, one block from the Mead Center, for $11. Street parking is also available along Maine Avenue.
VALET PARKING: Arena Stage offers valet service at no additional cost to patrons with accessibility needs who call 202-488-3300 in advance to request valet parking. On days when valet parking is being used for accessibility, it is also available to general patrons one hour prior to show time for $25, based on availability. To use valet parking, pull up to the main entrance on Sixth Street.
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays through the American Voices New Play Institute. Arena Stage impacts the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its seventh decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000. arenastage.org.
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