‘Oliver!’ opens Friday at Parkside Playhouse

Published 9:13 am Wednesday, January 28, 2015

CURTAIN CALL: Glenda Arredondo, from left, Wesley Cowan and Dr. Paul Ballard perform during a dress rehearsal of “Oliver!” opening Friday at Parkside Playhouse.

CURTAIN CALL: Glenda Arredondo, from left, Wesley Cowan and Dr. Paul Ballard perform during a dress rehearsal of “Oliver!” opening Friday at Parkside Playhouse.

Nine-year-old Wesley Cowan was a natural in the Vicksburg Theatre Guild’s “Les Miserable”, playing Gavroche, an impulsive young boy who sings “Little People” and this weekend he will step back on the stage as Oliver Twist in the VTG’s production of “Oliver!”

“Playing Oliver is definitely tricky, but it is definitely fun,” Wesley said.

“It is a very different part from Gavroche, who is loud and a ham. His character talks a lot like me, but Oliver is quiet and humble,” he said.

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“Oliver!” is based on the novel “Oliver Twist,” by Charles Dickens, and it is a story of an orphan who runs away from the orphanage and finds himself with a band of boys, who have been trained to pickpocket by an elderly man named Fagin.

As the main character of the show, Wesley’s biggest challenge has been learning his lines.

“The hardest thing is to learn all your lines. You have normal lines, songs and solos. Of the three, I like learning the parts of the songs the best. It’s challenging, but its fun,” he said.

Wesley, a homeschool student, said he loves being on the stage and has enjoyed becoming a regular at the VTG.

“I’ve met a lot of people, and I like hanging out here,” Wesley said.

Wesley admitted he has not yet read the lengthy novel by Dickens, but plans to in the near future.

Right now, he said he was just trying to get all the cast members to sign his copy of the book.

“Oliver Twist” was published in 1838, and the musical, “Oliver!” premiered in London, in 1960. It was brought to the U.S. in 1963.

“The show is a classic and most people will know the songs,” said Andrea Fairchild, the assistant director for the musical.

Fairchild is also playing small parts in the show including Mrs. Sowerberry.

“She is the wife of the funeral director and her character is loud, obnoxious and pushy” — the show-stealing role — Fairchild said.

As a mainstay for the VTG, Fairchild has been active at the VTG since 1996, performing in more than 25 productions and serving as a director and co-director.

Fairchild said she has enjoyed working with Jim Shirley, who is the director for “Oliver!”

“I like working with Jim, he sees the big picture and I’m a detail person. He also knows what he wants, and I enjoy making that come to life,” she said.

Oliver!” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Parkside Playhouse.

“This is a very exciting musical. There are lots of kids in it with lots of dance numbers. Be sure to come to “Oliver!,” Wesley said.

The musical will continue at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Feb. 6 and 7 and at 2 p.m. Sunday and Feb. 8. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for ages 65 and older and $10 for children under 12. Tickets are also available online at http://www.showclix.com/events/10243 and at the door at the Parkside Playhouse, 101 Iowa Ave. For more information, call 601-636-0471.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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