EPAC’s production of ‘Oliver’ is terrific

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan

Normally, I don’t like musicals. It just seems pretentious to have people break into song and dance out of nowhere. I do not expect much when I attend a musical, but, to my surprise, I was immediately drawn into “Oliver” at the Endicott Performing Arts Center. From the moment the curtain opened to the last note sung, I was enthralled by EPAC’s outstanding production of this timeless tale.

The story of Oliver Twist is simple: an orphan boy searches to find a home and a family. Alex Kosick (Oliver) plays his role with remarkable honesty. Not only can this young man sing brilliantly, but he has the acting chops to back it up. Kosick’s talent is undeniable, which makes him a treat to watch. His counterpart, Alex Marciniak, (The Artful Dodger), is also impressive. Although a bit hard to understand at times, his energy and passion shine. This makes the dynamic duo unstoppable and infectious.

Even though the kids steal the show, the adults in the cast are undeniably strong. Joe Foti (Fagin) is deliciously delightful with his clever interpretation of the villain with a conscience. He handles himself well and delivers a top-notch performance. Also, Matt Gaska (Mr. Bumble) is noteworthy. Gaska has great comic timing and a voice to match, which makes him a pleasure to watch. Rebecca Spencer (Widow Corney) has a remarkable voice that blew me away. Chris Nickerson (Bill Sykes) is fine as the villain. He is menacing and mean, thus delivering the necessary qualities of his character. (Note: I attended the pick-up rehearsal on Nov. 18, and Terri Jo Zimmer, who plays Nancy, did not sing, because she is recuperating from laryngitis.)

Director Pat Foti understands this play well and aids his actors in finding their roles. His staging is effective, making his cast able to capture the dramatic moments well. Because I went to see “Oliver” during a mid-run rehearsal, I expected the actors to be rusty. Instead, I found that the show was very much intact, which makes me believe that it will get even stronger during this final weekend (Nov. 19-21). With affordable tickets, this show left me asking, “Please, sir; may I have some more?” You don’t want to miss this one. Simply superb!

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