When I ever think of a high school musical I always image that it won't be nearly as good as the movie, or a professional version.
A good high school musical takes strength, effort, and talent. It's not about how many Kelly Awards you have won, or how many good reviews are written by theatre critics.
Also it's not about trying to get a student to Broadway and having them win a Tony. No it's not about any of those things. It takes schools like Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 who use their strength, effort, pure talent, and confidence when it came to their production of "Oliver!"
"Oliver!" was based on Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist." The book, music and lyrics for this well-known musical were written by Lionel Bart. Many people may remember the 1968 film that starred Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger and Mark Lester as Oliver Twist. Pittsburgh CAPA may not have the second generations of Jack Wild and Mark Lester, but they sure do bring the best of high school musicals to the audience. If Lionel Bart were still alive today and saw this production he would be in awe just like everyone else in the audience, because it is just too hard to believe how professionally these students acted.
This show was absolutely magnificent because of the uniqueness that Pittsburgh CAPA used. I have never seen a High School production where a student played the accordion in the number "Oom- Pah-Pah." Evan Neely sure showed his talent as one of Fagin's Boys, The Work House Assistant, and an Accordion Player, having him do triple duty.
When it came to Justin Bees, a sixth grader at CAPA, I could sort of tell he seemed a little bit nervous. His voice was a bit soft and a little bit hard to hear, however children his age when it comes to their first production of course they are going to be nervous. He did a fabulous job as the lead role Oliver because his acting skills were like no other. I believe he has a future musical theatre career because he sure showed his talent and ability.
The production staff did such a magnificent job putting this together. Producer Peter Bianchi and Production Stage Manager Lora Matway have probably the hardest jobs ever in a high school production. These two hard working students were really focused and got everyone involved no matter if it was lighting, sound, or whatever.
Words cannot describe how good Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 production of "Oliver!" was. All of the students involved showed their talent. When you go and see this show there is a spark of light and you are just in awe. This is because as a member of the audience you just absolutely cannot believe how talented twelve to eighteen years olds can be. This show is a must see for everyone in the Pittsburgh area.
The Kelly Critics is a joint program of the Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals, in which students at Kelly schools review musicals at other Kelly schools. Reviews are edited by senior theater critic Christopher Rawson (firstname.lastname@example.org), a long-time Kelly Awards judge.
First Published May 8, 2012 12:00 AM