Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Shore Arts and Entertainment’

No Need to Be “Reviewing the Situation”- The Palace Theatre’s Production of “Oliver !” Definitely Was A Big Hit

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

The Palace Theater Presents "Oliver!"

With a husband,  Youngest  Daughter,  a daughter-in-law and four grandkids in tow,  I set off  Sunday afternoon before last  for the historic Palace Theatre in Cape Charles, VA  to see Art’s Enter’s  production of   “Oliver , The Musical” .   And whereas Fagan felt the need to be  “Reviewing the Situation”,   there was no need to review the situation regarding this excellent production — the standing ovation at the conclusion of the performance  was pudding proof  of the audience’s  frame of mind !    No need to ask   “Where Is Love”,  because  it was right there,  in spades,  for the  more than 50 performers,  nearly  30  of them children,  all of whom acted their hearts out.   And after all that wonderful acting,  for the icing on the cake,  or rather the chocolate chip in the cookies,  for a little extra fund-raising,  Luisa Gazzolo had baked a huge  tin of  the most delicious chocolate chip cookies  for intermission sales  at the  concession stand.  ( You can likely  guess whose group munched down on  8 of them ! )


The Palace Theater at Night, a Vintage Feel.

For those who have never been to the Palace Theatre,  it was a very grand art deco style movie theatre when built in 1942, one of the largest and most elaborate between Norfolk and Philadelphia.    In the late 1990’s the theatre, by then quite run down,  was purchased by Arts Enter,  an organization formed by a local  group of artists and volunteers dedicated to the performing and visual arts.  Restoration of this 400 seat  theatre  was a Herculean task involving raising  tens of thousand of dollars  for the refurbishment  but today it is  fully functioning and absolutely gorgeous  as  can easily been seen by clicking on  which has a beautiful picture of the inside of the theatre,  with its 38 x 30 foot hand-painted murals, as its home page.  Literally hundreds of  dramatic, musical and dance  performances have taken place in the revitalized theatre which has been designated a Historic Landmark building and has become the hub around which much of the Northampton County arts community revolves.

Meadow Noonan and Susan Kovacs with Strawberries for Sale

But back to Oliver !    With so many different group scenes,  lots of the actors played several different characters or became part of the crowds, including  David Kabler from Blue Heron’s Cape Charles office who played in several crowd scenes as well as playing the part of  Dr. Grimwig,  whose poor advice was responsible for Oliver being kidnapped near the end of  Act II .   Meadow Noonan,  daughter of  Eva Noonan  from our Cape Charles office,  was part of  the  “thief crowd”  and the barmaid group,  also  looked  quite lovely as one of the two Strawberry Sellers in Act II.  Susan Kovacs,  co-director of the production together with Clelia Sheppard,  played several parts including one wearing  a salt and pepper colored wig which so cleverly changed her appearance that I kept wondering if  it was  Susan or not.   After the performance I ran into Susan in the lobby and told her  that in the wig I just couldn’t decide if it was her or not.  We both had a laugh when she told me that her husband,  Paul,  had seen the play twice but had not recognized her in that particular wig either ! 

"Oliver's" Cast Received a Standing Ovation

Being a musical,  it does without saying that in addition to voice,  the underlying instrumental music was crucial to the production.   A truly superb performance was given by  Art’s Enter’s musical director,  Bill Neil on the piano accompanied on violin by Shelia Sheppard Lovelady,  daughter of  Clelia Sheppard.   Oliver !  is an approximately 3 hour long production which means there is a lot of  ivory tickling and violin playing — Neil and Lovelady got a well-deserved standing ovation at the end of the show.  From the very opening scene to the end of the play,  most of the musical numbers also involved substantial and well-done choreography, overseen by Amy Watkins.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that when the cast came out to take their bows,  the applause was thunderous,  everybody jumped to their feet to show the many folks who had put in countless hours in  rehearsal,  set construction and costume creation just how appreciative they were of all that effort,  the results of which became another of  Art’s Enters’  very successful  productions.  Can’t wait for the next one.    P.S.  At the end of the show, Clelia came out on stage to ask the audience to help support Art’s Enter financially by attending the 15th annual “Benefit By The Bay”  party,  the backbone of  Art’s Enter’s annual fund raising,  being  held this year on June 4th  at Mariah’s,  a beautiful historic home overlooking King’s  Creek.  Tickets are still available,  call 757-331-3669.  Hope to see you there.