Through the Director's Eye: Oliver Twist


As the creative team came to this Victorian fairy tale, we wanted to honor the hero’s journey that Dickens created while utilizing the unique resources of the theatre — rhetoric, music, and spectacle. We wanted to honor his ability to create great entertainment, while hopefully helping us think a little differently about the world around us. 

For me, the sound of a show is always the beginning of building the world of the play. Dickens’ language forms the bedrock of that in this piece. Then we added Jake Hull’s performance ability and his melancholy sounds of yearning and hope. When he agreed the play the show live every night, I was ecstatic. 

The spectacle of the show comes from the beautiful imagination of Nehprii Amenii — a prolific, multi-disciplinary artist who acts as our Visual Storyteller for the piece. She lifts the heightened moments to an all-new sensory high.

The research of the show comes from the gorgeous brain of Kat Martin, our Dramaturg and Assistant Director for the show. Her thorough understanding of the Victorian period as it finds both resonance and friction with our own time has ever focused the lens through which we see the world of the play.

Add in the students of The Governor’s School for the Arts and their amazing teachers and staff as our collaborators. Their energy alone, tempered with a lot of talent and with an ability to focus beyond their years, brings the piece to new levels.

We were able to combine all of this great energy this summer at Zeiders American Dream Theater in Virginia Beach, where Mike, Bart, and Terry gave us the opportunity to play with punching bags and tiny cardboard donkeys in a workshop this summer. We would not be here without having that sacred, beautiful time to figure out how the music and the text could come together in physical space

And I have to thank the rich arts scene of this area that has provided so much inspiration this year. I’ve gotten to work with the cast of Choirboy and Anthony Stockard at Norfolk State University, Midsummer Fantasy Festival and FestEvents who created such beautiful sound and visuals for our one not-rained-out-night in Town Point Park this summer. The visual art of Abel Valerie. CORE Theatre Ensemble. The Pushers. The amazing actors, writers, and makers who work in Education and Outreach at Virginia Stage Company, and so many talented artists and admin folks at the Company who make my life better every day. There are so many other people that I get to talk and drink with in our thriving little art world that I may not have listed here. If you’re not out slurping up the ever-growing buffet of art being offered in this region, then I urge you to get out there and sample it!

But enough about all of that. I’m thrilled that you are joining us for tonight’s epic tale. We hope you have a good time tonight, but also... in the spirit of Dickens, we hope you’ll join us in the theatrical conversations and resulting actions that help to make the world better. We all deserve that.