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Lethbridge Musical Theatre’s Oliver is a family affair

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Lethbridge Musical Theatre’s productions are not only a community event, but also a  family affair.Oliver runs until Nov. 19 at the Yates-Sterndale Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
The long standing community musical theatre company’s production of Oliver, which opened Nov. 4 at the Yates Theatre, is no exception.

Dave Mikuliak and his daughters Mataya,11and Mikita,14, are just one of several families involved with the production, which runs Nov. 10-12 and  15-19 at the Yates Theatre.

“We have a lot of families involved,” said director Ed Bayly, noting it makes sense for a lot of parents, if they are going to be busy bringing their children to rehearsals and shows, for them to be get involved themselves.

 Dave Mikuliak, who plays Fagin in the production found out about  auditions through his daughter, Mataya, who heard about it at school and thought it would be a fun thing to do with both his daughters.

“I heard about it at school, and  I thought it was a great opportunity to do something with him,”  Mataya Mikuliak said.
“It’s been a lot of fun. The role of Fagin is a pretty enjoyable role to play,”  Dave Mikuliak said.

“ In Oliver Twist, he’s very, very, very, evil. He’s referred to as the devil and he has red hair, but in the musical, he’s depicted as far less evil,” Mikuliak said.
 He is has enjoyed  working with his daughters in the production. Mataya plays one of the orphans while Mikita is part of the adult chorus.

“It’s  family project. We’ve never done this  sort of thing together before. So it’s going to be fun,” he said.
 For Mataya, it has been interesting and a little unsettling watching her dad develop his evil character of Fagin.
“I’ve enjoyed watching it all of the little parts being put together,” she said.
“There have been a lot of cool things,” she continued.
“I like really like to sing,” she said.

“It’s coming together rather well,” said director Ed Bayly.
There are over 60 cast members involved with the production and because the production has a long run, 12 performances running Nov. 4-19, and involves a lot of children.

We’ve got two teams of orphans and two Olivers and two artful dodgers,” Bayly said.
 They had an impressive turnout for auditions.

“As it was, we had over 180 people come out for auditions. And I still had to tell 120 people they couldn’t be in in it, which is difficult. But it is gratifying to see so much interest in it,” Bayly said.
“ We have a mixture of veterans an newcomers,” he said.

The orphans of Oliver. Photo by Richard Amery
 Lethbridge Musical Theatre productions are very much a community event. While auditions for the production took place in April, cast and crew have had their noses to the grindstone actively rehearsing since Sept. 4.

 “The production team is really good,” Bayly enthused.

 Sandy Brunelle is the vocal director for this production and Joy Ackerman is the choreographer. The orchestra is lead by Bob Brunelle.

“ It is based on Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens’ story. It is about a boy in a workhouse who is apprenticed, actually sold, for five pounds, to a coffin maker. He escapes and runs away and gets mixed up with the artful dodger Fagin, the head of a band of young robbers. He ends up getting adopted by his paternal grandfather and lives happily ever after,” described Bayly. Ticket sales are going really well already.
 The show begins at 8 p.m. Nov. 10-12 and 15-19.
 Tickets cost $22 for the evening shows.
 A version of this story appears in the Nov. 9, 2011 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times

 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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