Bravo, Bravo Take A Bow
The enchanting evening started with the North Dakota Council of the Arts presenting a check in the amount of ten thousand dollars to the Village Arts. According to Deb Jenkins of Village Arts this is a grant given to them for a 3-year period in which they will receive ten thousand dollars per annum. Ten thousand dollars is a great sum of money and was appreciated greatly by the Village Arts of Rugby. But, no matter how great that presentation was, it paled to what the audience in attendance that night would experience.
The Village Arts put on a glorious musical of “Oliver!” for all to enjoy. The play was a shining example of the teamwork of many talents contributing to an overall perfection. The story takes you on a journey that gets Oliver from the orphanage, by devious routes, to London where he joins Fagin’s boys. There, for the first time in his life Oliver feels wanted and is well-fed. Oliver’s activities with Fagin, the boys and his new friend, Artful Dodger, are charmingly presented by this talented homegrown cast. With the substance and purpose of Charles Dickens’ everlasting original captured, “Oliver!” the musical through song and dance gives an added dimension to this classic.
The set was delightful, bringing a sense of time and character to the production. You can actually imagine a Dickensian London if you allowed yourself to be captured in the moment. Scenic artist Tanner Lind accomplished this task and what is even more impressive he did so on a budget restrained by reality of small town theater. Not to be outdone, Bonnie Berginski, as costume mistress, set the mood for this musical with an impressive array of costumes that lent to the spirit of the times. Between the set, the costumes, the music and the cockney English bantered about on stage the audience was transcended to the 1830’s of London.
For this production of “Oliver!” the musical, Glory Monson, who was Artistic Director as well as Choreographer, and Deb Jenkins, Director of Music and who also acted in the production, picked a cast that couldn’t be improved on.
Maria Michelle Mack, who showed talent that is usually afforded to actors twice her age, played the namesake of the story Oliver Twist. Mack performed the role exquisitely with a beautiful, sensitive face and the sweet, small voice of a choirboy, which is remarkable since she is a girl.
Rob Hovland, who resurrected the role his father played some 40 years ago as Fagin, gave a delightfully humorous performance. Hovland showed his range as an actor, a singer, a dancer and who also showed he had fantastic comedic timing. Hovland was a perfect choice for Fagin. Not just for the sake of lineage, but for his unbridled talent and energy that he projected from the stage. He enthralled with his singing and dancing with his little pickpockets. “Reviewing the Situation,” his musical number when his character was thinking fleetingly of reforming, was a show-stopper as he and his most loyal pupil, the Artful Dodger, played by Tanner Lind, delighted the audience with their chemistry on stage. Tanner Lind as the Artful Dodger had a winning, tough mug and the talent to carry his end of the acting and singing with the rest of the stellar cast.
Christine Halvorson showed she could not only, act, sing and dance, but showed she, could charm an audience as well. Christine, playing Nancy, was Bill Sikes’ lady and also became Oliver’s protector was a great choice for Nancy. She gives an appealing rendition of “As Long as He Needs Me” and sings and dances up a storm in the “Oom Pah-Pah” number.
Playing Dickens characters to a “T” were Luke Schlag who, with great menace, properly played the dirty, mean and nasty Bill Sikes, and Jacob Berginski who deftly portrayed the fatuous Mr. Bumble. Jacob gave his own wonderful interpretation of a tippling magistrate, with each appearance more enjoyable than the last.
No successful performance, as this definitely was, can be achieved without the hard work, dedication, commitment, and talent of all the cast, crew and staff. This production had these kinds of people in great supply.
So, without further ado, here was the cast, crew and staff of “Oliver!” Maria Michelle Mack played Oliver Twist; Rob Hovland played the role of Fagin; Christine Halvorson played Nancy; the Artful Dodger was played by Tanner Lind; Mr. Bumble was enacted by Jacob Berginski; Widow Corney was performed by Deb Jenkins; Bill Sykes was played by Luke Schlag; Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry were played by Kyle Vareberg and Jill Roberts respectively; Hubert Seiler played the role of Mr. Brownlow; Bet was performed by Elizabeth Skjelver; Kaitlyn Boucher played Charlotte; John Mueller played the roles of Noah Claypole and Charles Bates; Julia Petrovic played Mrs. Bedwin; Galen J. Mack played Dr. Grimwig; Brenda Oppen played Old Sally; Korrie Manke performed Old Annie and Steven Dockter played the Constable. Street Sellers: Rose Seller, Diane Arstein; Milk Seller, Vernice Brossart; Strawberry Seller, Jill Roberts; Knife Seller, John Mueller; Long Song Seller, Maria Leonard and Nurse, Kay Hovland. The Workhouse Orphans were played by: Marli Casavant, Jaclyn Duchscher, Tayler Hamilton, Kate Sullivan, Emberlynn DePauw Rylah Hager, Milana Petrovic, and Lauren Westphal. Fagin’s Gang Members were played by: Beth Boucher, Lauren Casavant, Katelyn Duchscher, Riley Grove, Connor Klein, Maria Leonard, Janikka Miller, Ivana Petrovic, Alaric Skjelver, Garrett Sullivan, Kaitlyn Boucher, Andrew Duchscher, Erik Foster, Tim Groves, Justine Leonard, Leona Petrovic, and Gabi Sullivan.
Artistic Director: Glory Monson, Director of Music: Deb Jenkins, Choreographer: Glory Monson, Pit Orchestra Conductor/Accompanist: Dave Schnackenberg, Violin: Lisa Crandall, Violin: Lucas Antonson, French Horn: Aubrey Hovland, Flute: Michelle Lake, Scenic Artist: Tanner Lind, Costume Mistress: Bonnie Berginski, Stage Manager: Sue Schaan, Stagehand: David Miller, Lighting Director: Shannon Miller, Lighting Technician: Chad Miller, Master Carpenter: Dwight Johnson, Assistant Master Carpenter: Hubert Seiler, Stage Carpenters: Landen Foster & Marne Johnson, Ticketmaster: Liisa Foster, Ticket Manager: John Groves, Concessions Manager: Sheryl Cameron and Fundraisers: Bonnie Berginski & Sheryl Cameron.
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