WIUM Tristates Public Radio

A Musical Twist on a Dickens Novel

Jul 10, 2019

The second season of SummerStage will be in the spotlight this weekend at Western Illinois University with a production of the musical "Oliver!"

The story is based on the Charles Dickens novel "Oliver Twist." The musical play was first staged in 1960.

Hadley Kamminga-Peck, who is directing the SummerStage production, said this weekend’s  cast includes local grade school students as well as adults from the community.

“It’s people that you know. It’s people from our community on the stage. That always creates a different kind of relationship when you go see the theater -- when you know the people, when they’re familiar to you,” she said.

“The whole reason that SummerStage came about is because the community asked us to bring something back after Summer Musical Theatre ended.”

Performances of “Oliver!” will be held Friday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday July 13 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 14 at 2:00 p.m. at the Hainline Theatre on the WIU Macomb campus. 

Tickets can be bought online or by calling the Hainline Box Office (309-298-2900). Tickets can also be bought at 115 Browne Hall at WIU.

The story is about a young boy born into a workhouse and sold into an apprenticeship. He runs away and falls in with the wrong crowd. Kamminga-Peck said even though the novel (originally published as a serial) was written nearly 200 years ago and the musical was written 60 years ago, the themes are surprisingly relevant today.

“The relationship between Bill and Nancy is one that, especially in the post-#MeToo movement, people are going to find to be very powerful,” she said.