The cast of Oliver Twist:
Top Row (left-to-right) Joshua Myran (Fagin), Liam McHugh (Limbkins, Bill Sikes), Nick Trafton (Susan, Artful Dodger), Sean Kato (Ballad Singer).
Second row from the top: Olivia Drury (Nancy), Ella Webb (Oliver Twist), Stephanie Dien (Old Sally, Charlotte, Fang, Officer), Louis Tonkovich (Mr. Sowerberry, Bailiff, Grimwig). Third row from the top: Ben Susskind (Doctor, Monks), Lauren Dong (Agnes, Charley Bates, Mrs. Bedwin), Sarah Sparks (Board Member, Betsy, Puppeteer), Zoe Hebbard (Board Member, Mrs. Sowerberry, Book Seller, Old Emily).
Front row: Mitchell Huntley (Mr. Bumble), Emme O’Toole (Rose), Amanda Fassett (Mrs. Corney), Saul Richardson (Noah Claypole, Mr. Brownlow).
It’s a few minutes before the afternoon rehearsal starts for Oliver Twist (May 18-26, Nicholas Studio). Director Hisa Takakuwa is in the Nicholas Studio, where she has been working with some of the Teen Players* actors to strengthen a scene involving Oliver and a family he’ll work for.
The script is adapted from Charles Dickens’ classic tale and offers the acting students both challenges and opportunities—it’s a stark portrayal of Victorian England; it offers hope through Oliver’s resilience; and there’s the added layer of perfecting British accents.
The actors run their lines as Takakuwa listens.
“So what’s the body language on that?” she asks, engaging the actors in a discovery process to help them portray the characters with truth, authenticity and depth.
The actors re-run the lines as Takakuwa listens and watches.
“How does that feel?” she asks. “You may feel like these characters are fringe, but they’re not,” she explains. “They’re people, just like you encounter all the time—maybe even in your own family. I want you to go further with it.”
She steps back as the actors repeat the scene.
“Keep going, keep going,” Takakuwa encourages over the dialogue. “Good! Okay!”
At that point, the rest of the cast has arrived and Takakuwa shifts her focus to work over the next four hours with the full complement of characters—from Oliver to Fagin, to Nancy and Bill Sikes. The students are devoted to the process and what they learn enriches not only their lives, but those of audience members who will see the show in a few short weeks.
*ABOUT THE TEEN PLAYERS: The Teen Players are carefully chosen through auditions from students in the teen acting program at SCR’s Theatre Conservatory. They have a minimum of two years’ experience. The cast for this production are all come from area hometowns that include Trabuco Canyon, Santa Ana, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Riverside, Newport Beach, Irvine, Foothill Ranch, San Clemente, Fountain Valley, Silverado and Costa Mesa.
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