A musical with an Oliver! twist

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Sacred Heart seniors Emily Casper and Grace Kennedy rehearse a scene in Oliver! with Sacred Heart junior Eva Carrasquero. Izzy Sio ’16

Convent of the Sacred Heart students will be wanting more after seeing their classmates’ musical production of Oliver! this weekend Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm in the Lennie de Csepel Theater. The performances promise to showcase the efforts of a new director, new costume designer, and extensive cast training.

Oliver!, based on the novel by Charles Dickens and adapted by Lionel Bart, tells the story of a runaway orphan, Oliver Twist, who escapes his workhouse and ends up on the streets of London with a group of young thieves and their leader Fagin.

Miss Michaela Gorman answers questions from Sacred Heart junior Tess Driscoll and senior Catie Capolongo about one of Oliver!>'s musical numbers. Izzy SIo '16
Miss Michaela Gorman answers questions from Sacred Heart junior Tess Driscoll and senior Catie Capolongo about one of Oliver!’s musical numbers.
Izzy Sio ’16

This is the first Sacred Heart Upper School musical production directed by Miss Michaela Gorman ’05, Director of Upper School Theater Productions. Miss Gorman was also the assistant director of two Middle School musicals, Shrek Jr. in 2015 and Annie Jr. in 2014.

“I chose Oliver! for this year because it is a fun, classic musical,” Miss Gorman said. “I thought it would appeal to our student actors, because it has such strong character parts, and also to a wide audience, because it has so many memorable songs and scenes.”

Miss Gorman performed in four Sacred Heart productions when she was a student, including Father of the Bride and The Sound of Music. Her past experience as a Sacred Heart performer has influenced her experience while directing her first production.

“One of the things I remember most about being a performer at Sacred Heart was the strong sense of community involved, so I hope to be able to foster that same close and supportive environment for our cast and crew,” Miss Gorman said.  “I also hope to be able to give students the tools and the freedom that I was given as a student to grow in their roles.”

The cast and crew of Oliver! believes Miss Gorman and her directing style have contributed to making the musical stand out this year.

“I love Miss Gorman.  She’s enthusiastic and so dedicated to this musical, and works with us a lot on character development and accents,” Senior Grace Kennedy, who plays Mr. Bumble, said.  “The acting level is definitely going to be of a higher caliber than previous years, and it’s going to be successful because she works so hard on it.”

Junior Eva Carrasquero agrees that Miss Gorman’s directing style has been influential in helping the cast shape their characters.

Sacred Heart seniors Emily Casper and Grace Kennedy rehearse a scene in Oliver! with Sacred Heart junior Eva Carrasquero. Izzy Sio '16
Sacred Heart seniors Emily Casper and Grace Kennedy rehearse a scene in Oliver! with Sacred Heart junior Eva Carrasquero.
Izzy Sio ’16

“She helps us have an insight on character’s backstories, and dedicates 30 minutes for each person’s accents and how words will sound like to help emote characters better,” Eva said.  “The characters are still ours but we’re pushing ourselves in the right direction with her help and it feels more professional even though we’re in a high school production.”

Eva plays the lead role of Oliver in the musical this spring.

“Even though he hasn’t been in the outside world, he’s perceptive and has a positive attitude that makes him clueless,” Eva said. “Everything follows him but all the stories throughout the musical follow everyone else and still focus on side characters.  Oliver initiates the story and it’s amazing to see.”

Unlike past years when parent volunteers have organized costumes, new Bell Choir Director Ms. Danielle Gennaro ’05 helped with the show’s costume design this year.
Ms. Gennaro made hats and repurposed clothing to fit the time period.

Middle School Spanish Teacher Mr. Silvio Ferraro also shares a close personal connection with the musical.  Mr. Ferraro participated during the Broadway production of Oliver! when he was in 8th grade in the 1962-1963 school year, and has been helping with the production of Oliver!.

Mr. Ferraro praises Oliver! as a way  helping to introduce audiences to the classic by Charles Dickens.
Oliver! is different because it brings into focus a work of classical English literature and it makes an old English novel more palatable to the audience and the students of Sacred Heart,” Mr. Ferraro said.

Despite the many changes made to this year’s musical, Oliver! is as memorable of a musical as those of past years and has left a mark on its cast members and their bond.

“One of the most memorable things about my experience is the friendships that I’ve made,” Grace said.  “We have a great time on and off stage, and we make a lot of lasting memories.”