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The musical Oliver! — retelling the Charles Dickens story about the orphan Oliver Twist — came to the Random Lake High School stage in 2011, as the community's 16th summer production. It was a huge show with 83 cast members, a pit orchestra, London fog and Cockney accents.
The story opens in an 1850s workhouse where the orphan boys are getting their meager lunch of gruel. Young Oliver has enough courage to ask for more, but he faces harsh discipline and is apprenticed to an undertaker. So begins Oliver's adventure on the streets of London, where he is taught to be a pickpocket by the criminal Fagin and his most clever student, the Artful Dodger.
For Lakeshore Productions, Inc., this might be called truly a "home made" work of art. Making their debut as co-directors were LPI veteran Joe Horstmeier, who played a Munchkin in 1996's The Wizard of Oz, and Nikki Andrews, Random Lake's K-6 general music teacher since 2007.
The lead role of Oliver was played by LPI newcomer Devon Kaat, who would be a sixth grade student that fall at St. John Lutheran School in Sherman Center. Leading the London pickpocket gang was Fagin (Duncan Doherty) with The Artful Dodger (Robert Parker). Other major roles included the brutal burglar Bill Sykes (Leopold Shircel) and his love interest Nancy (Sarah Klauck), workhouse owner Mr. Bumble (Bob Eichner) and matron Widow Corney (Deb Gilbertson), undertakers Mr. Sowerberry (James Belzer) and Mrs. Sowerberry (Debbie Zinkel), and the gentleman benefactor Mr. Brownlow (Bob Deyo).
The two best known songs from Oliver! are "Consider Yourself" and "I'd Do Anything," but audiences went home humming other favorites such as "Food, Glorious Food," "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two," "As Long as He Needs Me," "Reviewing the Situation" and "Where Is Love?"
Returning as choreographer was Veronica Hilke of Kohler. Dani Smith of Sheboygan was the stage manager. Teaming up to lead the costume team for this huge cast were the mother-daughter duo of Jan Rogne and Dori Ross.
As Horstmeier said, "We have a cast and crew that has taken so much pride in this production and the board and countless volunteers have been extremely helpful through the entire experience. Every time you turn around someone is asking if you need help with anything. I have had a great experience working with LPI, as I have so many times before. But this one was extra special."
This 2011 musical was the 58th stage appearance by Deyo, who added, "People may think that they know everything about Charles Dickens, but I think they should come to see our version of Oliver! I think you can learn something from this show."