Never before has a show needed more from the community as “Oliver!” The San Marcos Performing Arts Association (SMPAA) brings “Oliver!”, and community musical theater, back to the city after a lengthy absence.
“The last time we did a summer [production] it was a review. It wasn’t even a summer musical, and that was ten years ago,” said producer and board member of SMPAA, Rick Bowen. “I don’t want this to be a landmark thing unless we build on it.”
Building a foundation and a legacy for further community theater is a huge goal of SMPAA, and they hope “Oliver!” will be the cornerstone of things to come.
“One every ten years is not a program,” said Bowen, who also portrays Fagin. “We want a sustainable program and we’re thankful to finally have a theater in which we an produce a large scale musical like this.”
“Oliver!” will be shown at San Marcos High School in a new state of the art theater with seating in the hundreds, and cast members hope every seat will be filled over the show’s 3 day run.
“This theater is perfect for a large scale musical,” said Bowen.
Director Sarah Fleming Walker shares the common enthusiasm for the production.
“What’s so amazing is that we’re putting this together in a community that doesn’t have lot of exposure to this kind of process or production,” said Walker.
Many of the cast and crew are not theater professionals. They’re members of the community that have come together to bring “Oliver!” to life on the stage.
Walker said, “All of them are talented”
Oliver has been in rehearsals from June 2nd and while the work has been challenging many would like to see more involvement and help from the community.
“We’ve had good support from the family members and the cast,” said Bowen, who then expressed frustration at the lack of community involvement and assistance. “I know there’s people out there who are hungering for musical theater and also have skills that can help produce musical theater and we just haven’t accessed those people.”
“I guess some towns have a long history of summer musicals or community theater,” said Bowen. “It’s frustrating to try to create that and not have the kind of grassroots support the community needs to muster in order to sustain a program like this.”
Despite these obstacles the cast is ready, eager and willing to take to the stage.
“It’s going to be great, we’re having a great time,” said Ben Mayne, who portrays The Artful Dodger. “It’s going to be wonderful”
Christopher Morales, who plays Bill Sykes, echoed these sentiments.
“I think it’s a great cast,” said Morales, who also pointed out that many of the cast are not professional actors. “It’s amazing how wonderful they are because of that fact. You would think it was a professional cast.”
Bowen, and SMPAA, hope this leads to greater things for theater in San Marcos.
“We would like to see this lead to a summer workshop for middle aged kids so that when our students get into the high school program that have some training,” said Bowen.”We want to connect that with the summer musical.”
Bowen also expressed thanks to the San Marcos Arts Commission and San Marcos High School., adding “We hope people come out and support this musical. It’s an extremely expensive endeavor. Unless we sell out at least half the house every night we’re going to have a significant deficit.”
“Oliver!” will run on July 11th and 12th at 7:30 PM with afternoon showings at 2:30 PM on July 12th and 13th. Tickets will be $15 at the door with no advanced purchases available. The San Marcos Performing Arts Center is located at 2601 East McCarthy Lane.
For more information visit the San Marcos Performing Arts Association’s website at www.smpaa.com
By SEAN WARDWELL
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