Arts and Entertainment

The orphan boy Oliver finally finds a home

Kitsap theater veteran, Port Orchard resident Derek Niegemann (foreground) digs into his first role with the POCT troupe as the director of “Oliver!” - Photo by Bill Mickelson
Kitsap theater veteran, Port Orchard resident Derek Niegemann (foreground) digs into his first role with the POCT troupe as the director of “Oliver!”
— image credit: Photo by Bill Mickelson

By BILL MICKELSON

What’s Up

After about 50 years running, the little orphan Oliver Twist has finally found a perfect home. After all this time, the abode for Charles Dickens’ boy finally arose in Port Orchard.

For a boy whose mother gave birth to him, “and then promptly died without leaving so much as a forwarding address,” as Oliver’s former orphanage headmaster Mr. Bumble noted, there could be no better place to be than with the Port Orchard Community Theater, a burgeoning Kitsap theater company whose emphasis is centered on the family.

The POCT troupe kicked off its first-ever season in 2007 with another family-friendly, kid-centric musical last September, “High School Musical,” and to follow up they will be singing the sorrow of “Oliver!” this month.

The show will run through Jan. 27 with shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays at the Givens Community Center gymnasium, 1026 Sidney Ave. in Port Orchard.

Given the confines of the space in which they’ll be performing, director Derek Niegemann said the POCT production of “Oliver!” will be a bit different than folks have seen before, as anyone who’s seen the Givens’ gym with stage lights attached to the backboards could probably guess.

“People are used to it being a big production,” said Niegemann, referring to the elaborately constructed sets and prop-heavy scenes that accompany other productions of musical. “I’ve scaled it down more than people might be used to, without losing that Dickensonian flavor.”

Niegemann, a 40-year theater veteran who said he’s been a part of four or five different productions of this show through the years, has sized down the cast by eliminating a bevy of fringe characters and passers-by in addition to cutting the prop list by about 50 percent and likewise minimizing clutter on the set.

The sets which the cast will be working with consist of two wooden picnic tables and six benches, “which basically serve for what we need,” Niegemann said.

So while the visual arrangement of the show may not be the most show-stopping, the actors, especially the kids, that make up the cast are likely to fill the gap.

How old Spencer Cox plays the lovable “boy for sale” Oliver Twist, while how old Ian Bear plays the pompously greedy orphanage headmaster Mr. Bumble. Port Orchard Community Theater matriarch Robin Barnes plays the Widow Corney, Mr. Bumble’s love interest, while Barnes’ daughter Jessy plays Oliver’s crush Nancy. Caleb Krueger and Brandon Hatcher play Oliver’s pick-pocketing street friends the Artful Dodger and Charlie Bates while Thomas Morrow plays Fagin, the mastermind of the pick-pockets.

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