He’s an orphaned boy, beaten and underfed, sold into an apprenticeship that takes him away from the workhouse to which he's been sent.
Alas, things go no better for him there and he ends up a runaway in 19th-century London, where, despite all his experiences, he remains naïve and trusting and is soon recruited into a band of young pickpockets.
It may not have all the innumerable ins and outs of Charles Dickens’s classic novel Oliver Twist and Fagin may not be quite as evil as he was in the book, but Theatre Under the Stars' production of Oliver! captures Dickens’s main points as it focuses on the gritty underbelly of a society that looked the other way while its poorest children were abandoned.
“At that time it was a sort of 'dog eat dog, out for yourself' sort of feeling in the air,” says Dylan Godwin, who plays undertaker Mr. Sowerberry, to whom Oliver is apprenticed. Sowerberry is looking out for himself in any deals he makes, says Godwin, who adds that he's played "plenty of lots of weird guys but never an undertaker."
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"It's a musical based on one of the great works of literature. Dickens just writes the most fleshed out, eccentric characters," Godwin says.
Plus it has all those great songs such as “Consider Yourself,” “Food, Glorious Food” and “As Long As He Needs Me.” Theatre Under The Stars brings the Artful Dodger, Bill and Nancy Sikes and our young hero himself back to Houston for another round in this lasting tale of trial and redemption.
An added bonus for Godwin is that there's a huge chorus of Humphreys School of Musical Theatre kids — Godwin teaches there — who'll be belting out songs throughout the show.
Performances are scheduled for April 5-17 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. $37.75 to $109.50.