Oliver! takes stage in renovated auditorium

By Justin Cockrell

On April 1st of this year, the renovations to the McClurkan building were completed, providing one of the most historic buildings at Trevecca with a much needed face lift.

Now, for the first time, one of the major upgrades in the building will be under the spotlight as the Trevecca theatre department performs “Oliver!” the inaugural theatrical performance for the new Benson Auditorium.

“This play was chosen for the students,” Jeff Frame, associate professor of dramatic arts and communication as well as the director of the play, said. “There are struggles portrayed that I think relate to our own world today.”

The play, a musical based on the book “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens, is centered around a young orphan named Oliver and his experiences on the streets of 1830s London. But Frame’s intention with the play isn’t to just provide entertainment through the proven storytelling of Dickens or the catchy songs.

When people walk out of the theatre, Frame hopes that they’ll be thinking about and applying the central themes of Oliver’s story to themselves, themes like sacrifice, putting morals to the side for survival and true friendship.

Frame wants people not to be thrown off by the song and dance, and his enthusiasm for the true nature of the play has been passed on to his cast members as well. 

“It’s not a cookie cutter musical. It’s a dark play revealing the true sadness these people lived in,” Kara Dekker, sophomore, an actress playing a workhouse boy, said.

“We’re sharing insight into this horrible world,” Zach Farnum, freshman, who is playing the villainous Bill Sikes, said. “[These people] were really the lowest of low. Children were being mistreated, people were rude and it just wasn’t a good time.”

Making such deep subjects translate into a musical is not an easy task.  The cast of 36 has worked hard to capture the emotion of the play, Frame said.

For example, in one scene, a character is faced with a choice between changing for the better or remaining in his old ways.

“Here, I told the actor that the audience shouldn’t be able to necessarily determine what exactly his character would choose,” Frame said.

The characters in Charles Dickens’s stories are notoriously deep, but it’s something that Frame thinks his cast has embraced.

“Our actors are doing a great job of tapping into the nature of the characters that Dickens wrote.”

Frame said this could translate into a much deeper experience for the audience than what they’re used to, an exciting idea for both him and his cast.

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