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Scenes such as this one in Oliver! with Finn Sawtelle as Oliver Twist nd Barry Sikes as Mr. Bumble keep actors and audience coming back for live, local theater throughout Fredericksburg Theater Company’s 15th season. Photo by Phil Houseal

 Fredericksburg Theater Company’s Oliver! runs through July 10 with shows on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm. Tickets: $20 for adults, $5.50 for youth 18 and under. Please call the box office (888-669-7114) for information on group pricing.


webmaster: phil@fullhouseproductions.net

Oliver! in 4-D

by Phil Houseal
July 6, 2011


Proposed: In this age of ubiquitous electronic entertainment - iPods, 3-D movies, cell phones, Facebook, Xbox, Wii, etc. - why do we still bother to attend local community theater? I pondered this as I watched squirming youngsters and excited parents literally lining up outside the Steve W. Shepherd Theater last Saturday morning for a special matinee of Oliver! The Musical, the current production of the Fredericksburg Theater Company.

So, I posed that question to cast, crew, and audience at the show.


Julie Voorhees, FTC Executive Director: “Because there is nothing like being right in the middle of the action. It’s even better than 3-D - it’s 3-D and you’re in it. It’s 4-D!”

Paula Dean, Makeup: “Because it’s the written word brought to life. Human beings are acting out all the characters you read about in a book. We try to flesh out everything in how they look - their hair, their costume, their makeup. It’s kind of fun!”

Angela Wollman, Hairstylist: “It is a live way to break away from everyday reality.”

Jennifer Tatsch, Assistant Hairdresser: “I think the reason we come to plays is the excitement of it. We feel part of the drama - it’s right there in front of you. You feel the action; you know the people; you are living it with them!”

Kerry Goff, FTC Artistic Operations Manager: “I think it has to do with the experience of a live show. I believe as human beings we give off energy to each other. In a play you are singing, dancing, and giving off all this energy. The audience takes this energy and feels this kinetic atmosphere, then they reciprocate with positive energy, whether they laugh or they cry or they clap. Actors and patrons crave that - you don’t get that with movies.”

Bobbi Grimmer, actress, singer, and audience member: “Because you never know what is going to happen. Somebody will blow a line, or they’ll be extra especially charismatic out there.”

John Phelps (Dr. Grimwig), frequent FTC director and actor: “I believe it is the accomplishment of getting something done - creating something with all these volunteers is worth seeing. That is why I go to all local theaters. I like to see what a team of people have created on a volunteer basis, to see what the creative team built.”

Larry Kuhlken, chorus member and actor in over 30 FTC productions: “There is a real pleasure in watching people do this. We are so caught up in video and broadcast of rehearsed productions, we don’t see live shows anymore on television. There is a certain energy to watching people performing live, right in front of you. There is more life to it, and doing it live means there is a certain risk involved.”

Ryan Hoover (Bill Sikes), actor, director: “A large part is because people get a chance to see real people up close, doing something they admire or are afraid to do. A lot of people say I could never get up there and do that, so they have some fantasy about acting.”

That was confirmed by Laina, age 14: “I love musicals. It’s really fun listening to the music and getting to see everyone dancing.” So why is she not in the show? “Because I get stage fright.”

Conclusion (courtesy of John Phelps): “Oliver! is live in 3-D; but you don’t have to wear 3-D glasses.”

Consider yourself part of the show.