SWEENY

Watch an musically energetic story about found family and redemption in Sweeny High School’s long-awaited musical comeback.

“Oliver!” based on Charles Dickens’ historical novel “Oliver Twist,” tells the story of an orphan boy finding his way in the world through many twists and turns. The fact “Oliver!” is a musical — a rather large one at that — has been at the center of a lot of excitement in the school and community due to it being the first musical produced at the high school in more than a decade.

“It’s really exciting. It’s something I’ve been upset about in our school, that we don’t do musicals because I know other schools do musicals, so when I heard that we were doing one, I was really excited,” said junior Mia Huffman, who plays Nancy. “Our school is very condensed in sports, and the fine arts, especially choir and theater, don’t hardly get any recognition, and so the whole community coming to see the musical is actually really good for us.”

The production features characters from various age groups, including orphans, undertakers and thieves, giving a chance to welcome community members to participate. The production has been a large effort that would not have been possible without the grant from the Sweeny ISD Education Foundation, Vocal Director Drusilla Vinson said.

“We wanted to do a musical where we could involve as many age groups as possible,” Vinson said. “We wanted a community cast because other programs get a lot of attention, like sports — fine arts not so much — and we wanted to draw as many people as we could because we want people to be really aware of what we’re doing here and the potential, the unbelievable potential we have here with our kids.”

Because of the large number of young orphans on the stage, much of the cast is made up of kids from the elementary and junior high campuses, the youngest being 7 years old. The kids bring energy to the stage.

“It’s fun. My character is a fighter, so that’s cool. I get to run around a lot and stuff; I like it,” said fifth-grader Annie Wiggleton, who plays Oliver. “I do get a little stage fright, but it’s still fun.”

The mixture of high school students and younger kids posed a bit of a challenge, as this was a change for everyone involved, sophomore Noah Johnson said.

“This is really different for me. I’m not really the type of person to associate with kids, so it’s kind of eye-opening to see that they are not that bad,” said Johnson, who plays Fagin. “Keeping them focused was hard, but they’re doing amazing. It’s been a lot of fun with the little kids. They’re so cute, and when they have their lines, it’s really easy to giggle with.”

As the story on stage progresses, the audience gets to see Oliver learn lessons and fall into arguably the wrong crowd as he finds where he belongs,.

“I think it is a good example of, without sounding too fussy about it, it is about the morality of man,” costume designer Sierra Gosteli said. “Making good choices, being kind to others puts you much farther in life and makes you much happier in life than going about it in the other way. In this story, the kindest of people are the ones that get the happy endings.”

“Oliver!” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Sweeny High School auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for students and senior citizens, and children 3 and younger are free.

“I think the audience will just get a kick out of seeing how much talent we have on stage at so many different levels,” Director Jason Miller said. “There’s precious few opportunities for kids below the junior high level to get to perform like this, and even at the junior high and high school. I think getting to see that on stage will be very exciting, as well as seeing that not just from the kids, but from their adult peer members.”

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