Every summer the Talisman Players, Kutztown’s community theatre group, leave their musical audiences applauding and asking for more. This summer, come witness the spectacle for yourself and just see if you’re not joining the musical’s titular character in asking, “Please, sir, I want some more,” too!
The aforementioned summer musical, “Oliver!”, will run Sep. 6-8 at Kutztown University’s Schaeffer Auditorium, with matinee showings on Saturday and Sunday. The production is headed by director Christine Storch.
“Everybody in life is searching for something: a place to call home,” said Storch. “Sometimes you find that in an actual home, sometimes you find that in a person, sometimes you find that in yourself. But no matter what I think that’s what we can all identify with.”
As a child orphaned from birth, Oliver is in desperate need of a home and a family.
Unfortunately, the crowded and dangerous streets of London are a scary place to search for those things. Though he meets many characters who threaten to destroy his hope for a home forever, Oliver eventually finds the love and friendship that was meant for him. In the Talisman Players’ production, Oliver will be played by Joshua Bridges and Charlotte Storch, Christine’s daughter.
“Something that’s special to me is that this is the first time that my daughter is playing one of the leads,” said Storch. “I was really tentative to allow her to be in that spotlight, but it has been pure joy to watch her share the role and to watch both Olivers navigate and support each other.”
The role of the Artful Dodger, the first friend that Oliver makes and the lead member of a pickpocketing gang, will also be shared. Morgan Claypoole and Vivien Setliff, two experienced Talisman Players, will take on the role.
“[This show] really showcases a lot of talented kids in the area, both in and around Kutztown. It shows that kids’ shows don’t have to be unprofessional. These kids are absolutely incredible. They are professional, they are committed, and they put their heart and soul into what they’re doing,” said Storch.
In a community theatre like this one, it’s not just the commitment of the children that is
impressive; the parents of those children play a big part, too. Lindsey Dietrich, mother of Makenna Dietrich, another member of the pickpocketing gang, has been one of the most dedicated parents to the production, and she has been one of the leaders behind the scenes.
“Beyond the stage, there’s so much more that goes on to make a successful show. Finding props and costumes from our attics and garages, connecting with local business sponsors that are ever so generous to place an ad in the Playbill, recruiting parents to volunteer their time and donate meals or water for the actors during a long and grueling tech week; the list goes on. But as a parent of an actor, I love every moment,” said Dietrich. “The Talisman Players welcome everyone with open arms and consider us as part of the family.”
Dietrich is far from being the only one who sees Talisman as one big family. Storch preaches this concept constantly, assuring the community that any and everyone is welcome to join said family at any time.
“[Talisman] really is about being a part of a community that makes you feel like you’re wanted, you’re accepted, you’re heard, and you’re seen. And that’s the most important thing to me,” said Storch. “Talisman will always be a soft place to fall for its members, and anyone can be a member. Anyone can come back. They can go away for a while and come back, they can be in it consistently show after show, it doesn’t matter. It’s a home for whoever wants it.”
“Oliver!” will be showing Sep. 6-8 at Kutztown University’s Schaeffer Auditorium, with showtimes at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available at talismanplayers.com and any questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.