• Meet the Cast of "The Velveteen Rabbit"

    by 
    Tania Thompson
     | May 23, 2019
    The Cast of the Velveteen Rabbit

    THE CAST: clockwise from top left: Joseph Abrego, Nicole Erb, Paul Culos, Amielynn Abellera, Ricky Abilez, Nicole Cowans and Carina Morales. 

    Do you remember the childhood toy that you loved the most? The seven actors who bring the beloved tale of The Velveteen Rabbit (May 24-June 9, Theatre for Young Audiences) to life do. In addition to dishing on that kid memory, they talk about their favorite childhood books and more. They’re all excited to bring this show to life—and are moved by the story of the transformational power of love.


    Abellera,-Amielynn

    Amielynn Abellera
    Character:
    Velveteen Rabbit
    Acting: I wanted to be an actress since forever—when I was 5—because my parents took me to see lots of plays and musicals.
    SCR credits: I’m making my debut!
    Other things I’ve done include the TV shows “Just Add Magic,” “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn” and “NCIS.” I also narrate fun middle school and teen audio books at Audible.com.
    A big adventure from childhood: We had a large living room and my big brother and I would pretend the carpeted floor was a shark-infested ocean. The game was that we'd have to travel from one side of the room to the other without getting eaten by a shark. We would use furniture to build an adventure course through the large ocean. Tables became floating towers, the couch became an island, pillows became boulders, chairs turned into safety towers, the fireplace mantle became a rocky ledge to perch upon. We would take turns hopping and jumping from one thing to another and make scary shark sounds for each other when it wasn't our turn.
    A book I loved:  I gravitated toward The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It was a complicated book for me and I would feel different emotions every time I would read it as I grew older. Sometimes, the tree's unconditional love inspired and moved me, and relieved me of my fear of hurting someone with mistakes or bad choices. Other times, I felt that the boy was incredibly selfish, taking and taking from the tree until the tree had nothing else to give but his remaining stump, which still provided relief for the boy. Regardless, it was a story that I always wanted to read over and over. It encouraged me to know that when you love someone unconditionally, you love them and they love you—through the good, the bad, the easy, the hard and everything in between.
    My favorite stuffed animal: When I was five, my favorite stuffed animal was my Baby Fozzie Bear. He had a Christmas outfit on—a red and green scarf with a matching red hat and green holly. This particular stuffed animal was a limited time offer at McDonald’s and was very hard to find. It was Christmas Eve and every McDonald's was sold out. I was so sad; I remember my Dad driving me around one night to five different McDonald's before finding the very last Fozzie available in our town. That made me so happy and every time I see a Fozzie Bear, I remember my Dad's love, determination and how he didn't give up on finding me that stuffed animal.


    Abilez,-Ricky

    Ricky Abilez
    Character:
    Boy
    SCR credits: My last show here was on the big stage, Shakespeare in Love.
    Other things I’ve done include Frederick at MainStreet Theatre Company.
    A big adventure from childhood:  My brother, my aunt and I would use chairs and blankets to build a fort to help protect us from Big Foot and other creatures of the woods! It always worked. Then we’d take down the fort using our magic wands! We were in training to become powerful wizards. This was before we went to Hogwarts.
    A book I loved: Oh, Green Eggs and Ham—I think mainly because I love the color green and I was obsessed with the idea of green eggs. But, as I've grown older, the story, to me, is about embracing the unknown. Sam-I-Am teaches us that being open to things that seem foreign or different is essential to living a happy, full life and that a simple meal can be commonly shared among creatures of all shapes, colors and sizes.
    My favorite stuffed animal: I've had so many special stuffed animals. My turtle, Franklin, and my dog, Pups, really helped me overcome bullying in elementary school. Sometimes they were the only things that could make me feel better—when it wasn't a hug from my Mom, it was a cuddle from one of them! My Dad gave me Pups and my Mom gave me Franklin so, when my parents divorced, the stuffed animals reminded me of them when I spent weekends away. They were very real to me and I still have them!


    Abrego,-Joseph

    Joseph Abrego
    Characters:
    Wooden Lion, Furry Rabbit and Sam the Gardener
    SCR credits:  I was in Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook.
    Other things I’ve done include: Evita, Man of La Mancha, Carousel and In the Heights
    A big adventure from childhood: I loved dressing up with dresses and heels.
    A book I loved: My favorite childhood book was called Milk and Cookies. It was a story about a little boy who was afraid of the sounds that came from his basement. He spent lots of time speculating and worrying about the types of monsters that lived down there. When his Grandfather discovered the boy was afraid of the basement sounds, he took him down there to show him it was just the water heater! They laughed over it with milk and cookies. This book helped me realize that we create a lot of the fears we have—and we can overcome fear by confronting it.
    My favorite toy:
    Barbie dolls.


    Cowans,-Nicole

    Nicole Cowans
    Characters: Wind-up Ballerina, Wild Rabbit and New Bunny
    SCR credits: This is my second show here this season—I was in Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience. Oh, and I was in a concert-reading of the musical Prelude to a Kiss during the Pacific Playwrights Festival in April.
    My favorite animal (this one's not stuffed!) when I was a kid was the mythological creature called the Phoenix. I loved that it was so magical that it could be reborn from its own ashes!


    Culos,-Paul
    Paul Culos
    Character:
    Skin Horse
    SCR credits: I was in last season’s show, Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook
    Other things I’ve done include the television shows “Modern Family,” “The Middle,” “Superior Donuts” and “Shameless.”
    A big adventure from childhood:  As a kid, I remember disappearing into my drawings. I would spend hours sketching images and making up stories in my head about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Batman or the American presidents, whom I had a strange fixation on.
    A book I loved: The Hobbit was one of my favorite books as a kid. My Dad gave me my first copy. It was an exciting, scary adventure and probably the first time I had delved into more advanced reading. I can’t part with it to this day.
    My favorite toys: I had a white, fluffy stuffed dog with black spots that my cousins gave me for Christmas one year. I named him Ruff. He wore a flat cap with my initials sewn into it and I held on to him for many, many years. But my most favorite toys as a child were my extensive collection of Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, and super hero action figures. I would make up new stories every day with them!
    Erb,-Nicole

    Nicole Erb
    Characters:
    Model Airplane, Doctor, Nursery Magic Fairy
    SCR credits: I was here last year in Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook.
    Other things I’ve done include doing stand-up comedy with Upright Citizens Brigade and in the TV shows “Scandal,” “Big Time Rush” and “Hack My Life.”
    A big adventure from childhood: Growing up in Pennsylvania meant there was always some woodsey area to play in. I grew up near a bunch of creeks and forest areas and always liked looking for animals and fish and bugs around me. Pennsylvania is also nothing but old buildings and historic grounds so, as a kid, it feels like everywhere is haunted or you’re hunting for clues. You used to find arrow heads in the woods near my house. I also remember going to Gettysburg on a class trip and people finding civil war bullets and old buttons everywhere.
    A book I loved: The Borrowers! My Mom would read me another chapter every night before bed. I loved the family and I spent a lot of time making tiny furniture and putting it around my room so that when the Borrowers that lived in my house came out at night, they'd have furniture and gifts that were just their size (and they could even keep it if they wanted). I'm sure that I loved the book because my Mom read it to me and made it such a special part of my daily routine. I was also a big fan of Are You My Mother? 
    My favorite stuffed animal: My family had a husky-shepard mix named Frisbee while I was growing up. She looked like a wolf. So, of course, my favorite stuffed animal was a husky that I named Baby Frisbee. I loved Frisbee (the actual dog) so much that when she got older and it was time for us to say goodbye to her, it was nice to have a mini-version of her to hold on to and remember her by. Baby Frisbee still lives in my old room at my Mom's house.


    Morales,-Carina

    Carina Morales
    Characters:
    Nana and Toy Soldier
    SCR credits: The young audiences musical, Amos & Boris
    Other things I’ve done include: The national tour of Junie B. Jones ​and musicals at Hong Kong Disneyland and Universal Studios Singapore.
    A big adventure from childhood: When I was a kid, I loved to play with my American Girl dolls. I pretended that they were my children and I would invent all kinds of dramatic situations for them to play out. Sometimes, my dolls would get in fights with each other and I would help them make up and become friends again; or they would get sick in the middle of the night and I’d have to rush them to the hospital for emergency surgery! Other times, I would take them on exciting imaginary trips to Europe or Disneyland! Much like the Velveteen Rabbit was real to the Boy, my dolls were real to me, and I spent endless happy hours playing with them.
    A book I loved: A Wrinkle in Time. It’s a thrilling story that’s full of exciting characters, and delivers beautiful messages about embracing individuality, and the ultimate triumph of love.
    My favorite stuffed animal: When I was very little, I had a stuffed leopard named Leopard. She was a large stuffed animal, actually taller than I was at the time! I used to carry her around using both hands to balance her across the top of my head. Leopard loved to sing songs and star in shows in the living room with me. She was also very soft and gave the best hugs!

    Learn more about The Velveteen Rabbit and buy tickets.

  • Party Play: "M. Butterfly"

    by 
    Beth Fhaner
     | May 21, 2019

    Celebrated playwright David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, a tale of obsession, perception and the allure of fantasy, opened to an appreciative and mesmerized audience on Friday, May 17, 2019, on the Segerstrom Stage.  M. Butterfly—a Tony Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist—concludes SCR’s 2018-19 season.

    Hwang has a nearly three-decade relationship with SCR, which premiered his Golden Child (1997) and produced Chinglish (2013, with Berkeley Repertory Theatre). M. Butterfly, Hwang’s break-out hit when it premiered on Broadway in 1988, is a compelling drama about the passionate 20-year affair between a married French diplomat and a mysterious Chinese opera diva. Inspired by true events, M. Butterfly captivated the First Night audience, delivering two hours of extraordinary performances, exquisite costumes and wigs, and spectacular acrobatic dance sequences under the expert direction of Desdemona Chiang and choreographer Annie Yee. Theatregoers immediately showed their admiration for this stunning work with enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation.

    Led by Jake Manabat as Song Liling and Lucas Verbrugghe as René Gallimard, the entire ensemble delivered impressive performances while transporting the audience to Paris and Beijing during the decades of the 1950s-1980s. The talented cast also includes Aaron Blakely, Melody Butiu, Stephen Caffrey, Nike Doukas and Juliana Hansen. The ensemble included Annika Alejo, Yoko Hasebe, Andres Lagang and Sophy Zhao, all of whom performed the incredible dance numbers.

    Honorary Producers and First Night attendees Geoff and Valerie Fearns greatly enjoyed seeing the play and commented, “Desdemona [Chiang’s] creativity with the story was captivating! The use of breaking the fourth wall with the audience gave us the ability to feel like we were actually there with René and his ‘Butterfly’. It was a lovely tribute to a delicate story.”

    Honorary Producer Michael Ray was also in attendance on First Night and found M. Butterfly to be as relevant and entertaining as ever. “This production is beautifully staged and acted with great passion and sensitivity,” he said. “While it challenges us to think about timely issues of gender and geopolitics, it also presents us with a timeless story about whom and why we love. It’s a moving, challenging and riveting night at the theatre!”

    Guests who attended the cast party on Ela’s Terrace were welcomed to an inviting scene, as red starlight linen-covered tables and twinkling overhead lights created a festive atmosphere, along with large bouquets featuring red roses and gorgeous crimson florals.

    Crème de la Crème provided the catering for the celebratory soiree, which was sponsored by South Coast Plaza as part of their season sponsorship for Segerstrom Stage’s 40th anniversary. With a menu inspired by Asian cuisine, partygoers feasted on an array of scrumptious hors d’oeuvres such as petite vegetarian spring rolls with a lemongrass-miso dipping sauce, roasted garlic chicken skewers with ginger plum reduction and steak au poivre with Dijon, mustard seeds, cornichons and capers on rye toast points.

    Other delectable appetizers included Angus beef sliders with brie cheese, slow-roasted pear and fig compote, spinach dip with carrot and celery sticks and pomme chips with spicy ketchup. The Asian salad, comprised of Napa cabbage, snow peas, bean sprouts, Julienne carrots, bell peppers, crispy wonton strips and Asian sesame ginger dressing, and served in petite, to-go containers, was also a popular dish. For a sweet finish, guests indulged in tempting treats such as house-made lemon bar bites, chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies in the shape of a butterfly.

    From the bar, the play-inspired signature cocktail was dubbed “Le Papillon”—a delicious beverage that blended Tito’s Handmade Vodka with Lychee Liqueur and pink lemonade.

    First Night theatregoers were delighted to have the opportunity to meet the director and the entire cast during the after-party. As guests mingled with fellow theatregoers into the evening, much appreciation and acclaim continued for the cast and creative team of M. Butterfly, Hwang’s enthralling, remarkable tale of espionage, East-West relations and betrayal.

    Learn more about M. Butterfly and buy tickets.

  • Love and Loss: Growing up with the Velveteen Rabbit

    by 
    Kathryn Zukaitis
     | May 21, 2019

    Velveteen Rabbit Logo

    My Own Velveteen Rabbit

    Katherine and Nana

    Kathryn & Nina’s school photo, 1989

    Shortly before I was born, my grandmother sent a stuffed Peter Rabbit across the country—my very first birthday present. Once I learned to crawl, I would scoot unerringly toward this rabbit, which I called Nina (“Peter Rabbit” being much too difficult to pronounce). We were soon inseparable and I brought Nina to preschool with me every day. To their credit, my teachers decided to work with, rather than against, my attachment; we developed a ritual in which the whole class would help place Nina in my backpack at the end of each school day, making me feel like one very cool kindergartener. Nina eventually stopped attending school but continued to have many adventures and even spent one rather scary night lost in a mall in Omaha. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, Nina has shed some fur over the years and was even partially decapitated at one point—don’t worry, Mom sewed her head back on—but has always been well loved. To date, Nina has lived in seven states and four countries and currently resides in Santa Ana, California.

    Kat and Nina

    Kathryn & Nina, 2019

    “There was once a velveteen rabbit.

    “In the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.”

    So begins the beloved children’s classic by Margery Williams. When the Velveteen Rabbit first arrives in the nursery, the Boy ignores him and the other toys mock his simple construction: he has none of the wind-up machinery or poseable joints that characterize the top-of-the-line playthings in 1922. Only one other toy shows him any kindness: the Skin Horse.

    The Skin Horse is old and worn, but he knows a truth that the other toys don’t: when a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real. This secret both intrigues and scares the Velveteen Rabbit, for being loved by a child seems to involve a lot of being sat on or left out in the garden overnight. But when the Boy chooses the Velveteen Rabbit as his new favorite toy, there is no looking back.

    Velveteen Rabbit

    The Boy and the Velveteen Rabbit become inseparable. They embark on a series of fantastic adventures throughout the nursery and garden, and they grow older together. The Velveteen Rabbit is by now quite worn and shabby—and he couldn’t care less. He’s discovered the power of loving and being loved. He has become Real.

    Then the world changes. Scarlet fever strikes and the Boy’s life hangs in the balance. The Velveteen Rabbit stays faithfully at the Boy’s side throughout, whispering encouragement and waiting impatiently for things to return to the way they were before. But when the Boy’s fever finally breaks, the doctor decrees that all of the child’s belongings must be burnt—especially his germ-filled rabbit. Alone on the trash pile, the Velveteen Rabbit wonders if there was any point in learning how to love, if it all ends like this.

    Parents, don’t fear: the Velveteen Rabbit will survive the trash pile—and with a little help from nursery magic, will discover how the transformation wrought by love has prepared him for a whole new reality.

    Playwright Janet Allard’s adaptation hews close to the classic children’s book, bringing the Velveteen Rabbit’s fun-filled relationships with the Boy and the other toys to glorious life. For director Beth Lopes, who also helmed last season’s hilarious Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook, this tale has a twofold message. The first part celebrates the enduring bond between a lonely child and an ordinary toy: together, they learn to harness the power of imagination and build a world of excitement and secrets to share. The second part of the story, though, teaches us that real love demands more than just shared adventures—sometimes it also means learning how to let go. For Lopes, a true celebration of childhood honors both the wonder and the sadness inherent in growing up.

    The result is a beautiful, bittersweet production, supported throughout by original music from Ears Up Sound Design (Matt Caspary and Mark Glenn). Kathryn Wilson’s delightful period costumes transport viewers back to the 1920s and transform actors into wind-up ballerinas, model airplanes, joined wooden lions—and even humans. Keith Mitchell’s storybook sets and Karyn D. Lawrence’s delicate lighting complete the onstage world; and Kathryn Davies, a veteran SCR stage manager, rounds out the creative team.

    Lopes has assembled a talented cast to inhabit this enchanting world of toys. Amielynn Abellera makes her SCR debut in the title role; Ricky Abilez, who appeared in last season’s Shakespeare in Love plays the Boy; Joseph Abrego, Paul Culos, Nicole Erb (who all three appeared in Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook), Nicole Cowans (Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed) and Carina Morales (Amos and Boris), return to the SCR stage to portray the toys, rabbits, fairies and humans that make up this wonder-filled world. Read more about the cast.

    With its resonant message of love and loss and its design that celebrates the nostalgia and exuberance of childhood, South Coast Repertory’s production of The Velveteen Rabbit promises to delight both longstanding fans of the classic story and those who are meeting the Rabbit and his Boy for the first time.

    Learn more about The Velveteen Rabbit and buy tickets.

  • 56th Season Unveiled—the First to be Programmed by Artistic Director David Ivers

    by 
    Tania Thompson
     | May 15, 2019

    David Ivers

    South Coast Repertory’s 2019-20 season build​s on the theatre’s 56-year foundation of stellar artistry. The lineup of 13 plays ranges from a two-person show to a large-cast musical and represent a kaleidoscope of classics and popular hits, along with four world premieres and three shows for young audiences and families.

    “We’re excited for our upcoming season, which is built on the solid legacy of South Coast Repertory’s more than five decades of artistic excellence,” says Artistic Director David Ivers, who ​joined Managing Director Paula Tomei in announcing the ​plays. Ivers is embarking on his first year ​as artistic director.

    “Overall, the season offers gigantic, yet intimate stories about love in all its forms—love that draws us together, that pulls us apart, family love, love of food, surprising love, love of country and unspoken desires. These plays also showcase adventure, heroism and finding the strength to overcome adversity. There’s something for everyone—a wonderful journey and we’re looking forward to sharing it with our audiences.”

    Watch David Ivers talk about the upcoming season.

    The offerings include the world premiere of The Scarlet Letter by Kate Hamill, the musical She Loves Me (directed by Ivers), American Mariachi by José Cruz González, Arcadia by Tom Stoppard and the beloved children’s story, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

    "There’s a palpable energy around next season,” Tomei says. “It offers endless possibilities for us to engage our community in new ways, and expand and deepen our existing partnerships. We’re excited by the fresh perspectives, new ideas and enormous talent that these 13 plays will bring.” 

    Check out the full season.


    On the Segerstrom Stage

    • American Mariachi by José Cruz González
    • Aubergine by Julia Cho
    • She Loves Me by Joe Masteroff (book), Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics)
    • The Scarlet Letter by Kate Hamill (world premiere)
    • Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

    On the Julianne Argyros Stage

    • The Canadians by Adam Bock (SCR commission, world premiere)
    • Fireflies by Donja R. Love
    • Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley
    • I Get Restless by Caroline V. McGraw (world premiere)

     Theatre for Young Audiences

    • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (book and lyrics), music by Shelly Markham
    • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon: A Musical Adaptation by Min Kahng (book, music, lyrics)
    • Dory Fantasmagory by John Glore, adapted from the book by Abby Hanlon (world premiere)

    And for the Holidays...
    The 40th anniversary of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol by Jerry Patch, Nov. 30-Dec. 24, 2019

    Learn more about the 2019-20 season and purchase subscriptions and season tickets. Single tickets go on sale June 10, 2019.

  • The Cast of “Oliver Twist” Gears Up for Performances

    by 
    SCR Staff
     | May 14, 2019
    Oliver Twist Cast

    The cast of Oliver Twist.

    Who's Who in the Cast

    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).

    After weeks of rehearsal—including mastery of British dialects—the Teen Players have the end goal in sight. The Theatre Conservatory students (Grades 9-12) will perform the Charles Dickens classic, Oliver Twist, in the Nicholas Studio, May 18-26. For each actor, the benefits of working as an ensemble are priceless. This is where all their classroom work is put into action and where they hone their craft. We asked the cast to talk about what they’re excited about for the show and how their experience in the Conservatory has prepared them.


    Excellent Direction Leads to Capable Storytelling

    Stephanie Dien (Old Sally, Charlotte, Fang, Officer) admits that she’s extremely excited to be able to be a part of such a dedicated ensemble as this one here at SCR. “Everyone is willing to put in 150% more than their share and it really makes the atmosphere glow with energy and enthusiasm for what we are doing,” she says. “The story itself is an intricate and empowering one that is so fun to explore and Hisa [Takakuwa], our director, has done an excellent job shaping us into its capable storytellers.”

    Olivia Drury (Nancy) echoes Dien’s thoughts. “Hisa is such a wonderful director, so getting to be a part of anything she does is such a privilege," she says. “It’s also really great to work with our assistant directors, Rachel [Charny] and Nick [Slimmer]. They are super helpful when it comes to character work. The best part is this amazing group of actors I get to work with. They are so incredibly smart, creative and kind, and I feel so lucky to be onstage with them telling this story.”


    Applying Acting Studies to Their Various Roles

    Liam McHugh (Limbkins, Bill Sikes) reports that Oliver Twist has allowed him to work on dialects, which is something that, despite his initial apprehension, he finds enjoyable. “Additionally, it has opened the door for fun and interesting character work, through Bill Sikes,” he notes. “It is a pleasure to work with everyone in the show.”

    Joshua Myran (Fagin) explains that through his Conservatory studies he​ has learned that each character is a real person—they have objectives, wants, fears and needs. “Characters need to say every word written for them—they have a purpose in what they say. In Oliver Twist, every word hum, and song brings out who that character is,” he says.

    Nick Trafton (Susan, Artful Dodger) explains that he “fell in love with this story very quickly and I love this time period—Victorian England. It’s a fantastic story with deep messages. My classes in the Conservatory have allowed me to get in-depth with my character and live in this show.”

    Amanda Fassett (Mrs. Corney) comments that it has been both a joy and a challenge applying the dialect work they did late last year to the characters now in Oliver Twist. “More important, we have to fully [apply] the dialect into our acting work because the relationships and truth of the storytelling are priorities,” she says. “Ultimately, that’s what I love about this process: layering and applying the work we do in fall and winter classes and seeing it culminate into our spring production.”

    Saul Richardson (Noah Claypole, Mr. Brownlow) adds, “The classes here have taught me to embrace the process of being an actor.”


    On Character Development

    Ben Susskind (Doctor, Monks) says,The show is really bright and colorful! Each character is big and yet still human. It’s interesting to see these characters contrast and come alive onstage. While I’ve played this type of character before, I get to play it now at 100%. Every part of this show is so deep and complex.The artistry over all the dark and violent sections makes it so much more emotional and tragic."

    Lauren Dong (Agnes, Charley Bates, Mrs. Bedwin) explains that in the show, she plays three different characters but switches back and forth between two of them for most of the show. “During the rehearsal process, I spent time focusing on the characters individually, so that I could develop a sense of who they are thoroughly. I find myself being able to let the creativity and strength of choice-making really come into play for this production,” she says. “I’ve learned to give myself the freedom to play around, make mistakes and feel what the fitting and natural choices are to make for each character. Focus and really listening to the story being told are important to each character’s arc. These skills allow me to face the challenge confidently, and it has been really fun trying to make each character as diverse as possible.”


    Excitement Runs High for Special Production

    Emme O’Toole (Rose): “What makes me most excited to be in Oliver Twist is being on this journey alongside my best friends who each bring their own unique and incredible talents to the story. I love watching as everyone contributes a different perspective, whether that be through music, movement and more. To have the opportunity to perform such a meaningful show with so many important themes about family, justice and love is really special, especially beside such a talented and supportive ensemble.”

    Sarah Sparks (Board Member 2, Betsy, Puppeteer) says that she’s really excited to be a part of Oliver Twist because it’s unlike anything she’s ever done at SCR before. “It has us firing on so my cylinders in that we have to worry about dialects, physicality appropriate to the period and ground ourselves in the storytelling. It is really challenging in a new way but because of that, it’s very exciting.”

    Louis Tonkovich (Mr. Sowerberry, Bailiff, Grimwig): I’m excited to tell such a complex and relevant story and to bring it to life in an honest and real way. It’s an intense story that addresses privilege and class, and how we, as a society, deal with problems. It’s very different from the musical and I’m excited for people to see it.”

    Ella Webb (Oliver Twist): “I think it’s really special for a group of young people to tell a story about a character so close to our age. It’s also super exciting to discover the world of London during the 19th century, especially because of all the different dialects!”

    Zoe Hebbard (Board Member 1, Mrs. Sowerberry, Book Seller, Old Emily):I’ve always wanted to be in a show like thisit’s so exciting to be in Oliver Twist and on this roller-coaster ride of emotions. It quickly goes from light and jovial to heart-wrenching—sometimes within the span of one scene. Because the characters in this show have such strong personalities, knowing how to make strong choices in portraying them is key.”

    Mitchell Huntley (Mr. Bumble):I think what makes me really excited is the dedication of everyone involved and the creative exploration we've had. What's made this production special has been the various different elements we've created for the show, whether through song or sound. I think the creativity we've had will make it a refreshing and engaging show for the audience.”

    Sean Kato (Ballad Singer, Cat, Cook, Hangman, Photographer, Officer):Being part of an ensemble with so many other young, talented artists makes this show a freeing and exciting experience for me. Also, being able to convey such an important message through a story with both comedic and dark tones, spoken through youth voices, is very special.”


    Clearly, the cast of Oliver Twist is a dedicated and enthusiastic bunch. Whether it involves working on British dialects, making the best choices for their multiple character roles or just enjoying being part of a talented and supportive ensemble, the Teen Players are thrilled to be bringing the colorful characters of Oliver Twist to life onstage. Don’t miss this beloved classic!

    Learn more about Oliver Twist and buy tickets.

    Check out summer acting classes for kids, teens and adults.