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Press Release



September 08, 2005

Community to be involved in Cowley musical ‘Oliver’


Scott MacLaughlin thought it was time for Cowley College’s Theatre Department to put on a big-name show for its fall musical.

They don’t get much bigger than “Oliver.”

Charles Dickens’ touching tale of an orphan boy who runs away and tries to pick a pocket or two, only to get caught, will appear on Cowley’s Robert Brown Theatre stage at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20-22. A dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m. Oct. 21-22 in the Wright Community Room inside the Brown Center.

Tickets, which go on sale Sept. 26, may be purchased from the Cowley Box Office for $7 per person (show only) or $15 per person (dinner and show). Full-time Cowley students will each receive one discounted ticket for $3. Cowley employees will receive two free tickets. The Cowley Box Office will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is (620) 441-5570.

The musical will involve the Arkansas City Middle School Choir, which has more than 40 members, plus 10 “principle” middle-schoolers who will appear throughout the show. MacLaughlin said he was pleased to involve more community members in the production.

“I thought it would be great to invite the middle school choir to be involved in one of our productions,” MacLaughlin said. “This gives kids a wonderful experience and introduces them to theatre and a live performance. This seemed like a great way to bring the community together. It also will expose Cowley theatre to people who have never been to a show.”

Oliver, adapted from Dickens’ classic novel Oliver Twist, first appeared on Broadway on Jan. 6, 1963. It ran for 774 performances. What makes this musical so attractive, according to MacLaughlin, Cowley’s director of theatre, is that it incorporates many forms of theatre.

“It’s a great message,” MacLaughlin said. “The overall theme to the show is to do what’s right. There is a lot of drama and suspense, a lot of comedic material, and great music.”

The opening number, which will incorporate a cast of more than 70, is the memorable “Food, Glorious Food.”

Oliver, played by John Rohr, a student at ACMS, is befriended by the pickpocketing Artful Dodger, played by Jaden Hedge of Topeka, and is recruited into the gang of boy thieves led by Fagin, played by Jared McGuire of Arkansas City. The villainous Bill Sykes, played by Kyle Chamberland of Sedan, casts his long shadow over Oliver and his friends, but the young orphan is still able to find loving care in the most desperate of circumstances.

The last Cowley production to use numerous Arkansas City youth was “Music Man” back in the mid-1990s. MacLaughlin said the entire Robert Brown Theatre would be used for “Oliver.”

“There are several underlying themes to the musical,” MacLaughlin said. “One, it’s fun, high energy, and the songs are wonderful. But there’s also some deep undertones like living a moral and ethical lifestyle and how you can change. Fagin contemplates changing his ways as a thief all of his life.

“It will be a great show. The more people we can get involved with our productions the better.”

The cast:

Mr. Bumble-Jeremy Groom, Winfield
Mr. Sowerberry-Logan Geist, Scott City
Noah Claypole-Luke Franklin, Conway Springs
Fagin-Jared McGuire, Arkansas City
Artful Dodger-Jaden Hedge, Topeka
Bill Sykes-Kyle Chamberland, Sedan
Mr. Brownlow-Chad Law, Winfield
Dr. Grimwig-Devin Naccarato, Valley Center
Oliver-John Rohr, Ark City Middle School
Mrs. Corney-Kelly Hedges, Valley Center
Mrs. Sowerberry-Britnee Leighton, Arkansas City
Charlotte-Ashley Stone, Winfield \
Nancy-Aubrey Slief, Elkhart
Mrs. Bedwin-Karrah Fish, Valley Center
Old Lady-Kelsey Creed, Caldwell
Old Sally-Amanda Letté, Udall
Bet-Emma Schrag, Ark City Middle School

College student chorus-Adam Wiley, Arkansas City; Jade Hillestad, Salina (Central High School); Aaron Loehr, Wichita (Derby High School); Sarah Coury, Arkansas City; Megan Merchant, Havana (Sedan High School); Heather Bailes, Garden City (Holcomb High School); Ashley Jefferies, Belle Plaine.

Arkansas City Middle School student chorus-Jordan Butler, Alex Behrens, David Bartlett, Addam Porter, Jorey Reeves, Zachary Barrett, Addie Stienbacher, Elizabeth Hooley.