Musical take on Dickens’ tale comes to life

By From page B1 | January 10, 2014

VACAVILLE — The tale of an orphan who endures a miserable existence is the focus of the next offering from J&S Performing Arts Center.

A cast of about 50, who range in age from first grade to high school seniors, will sing their way through “Oliver,” the musical adapted from Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.”

“Most of these kids have never done a show,” said Serena Kreamer, who runs J&S.

The cast was limited to 50, then divided into two groups. The show is double cast to give each performer a chance to shine

Before Wednesday’s rehearsal, Kreamer was the recipient of hugs from many of the youngsters.

“These are all my kids,” she said.

Jeremy Kreamer, Serena Kreamer’s son, chose the show. He is the music director at J&S.

The idea is to expand what the young actors and actresses learn. Past shows have involved Disney themes as well as fantasy.

“Oliver”  is “real, serious and one of the old Broadway standards,” Jeremy Kreamer said.

On Wednesday afternoon he coached three young male cast members on their vocals while other cast members got into costume.

One of the three was Kristian Bakken, a seventh grader at Bethany Lutheran School in Vacaville. He’ll play Oliver.

“He’s very interesting,” Kristian said of his character. “He’s a lot more dramatic than other roles I’ve done.”

This is his first show with J&S. Bakken also performed in the Will C Wood High School production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

He’s not sure if acting will be his career choice but thinks it will always be part of his life, he said.

Olivia Wilhelms, a fourth grader at Ace Charter School in Vacaville, will also play Oliver.

“It’s a little weird wearing the clothes,” she said of dressing as boy. “I like playing him.”

It’s also her first show. She’s practiced her lines with her mom and dad. And, she’s mastered stage fright.

“You just go and do it,” she said of getting on stage. “You don’t think about it.”

Clara George, an eighth grader at Vaca Pena Middle School, has been with J&S for about four years. She’s playing the role of Mrs. Snowberry.

“I really enjoy being onstage and getting to be another character,” she said.

She sees some similarities between herself and her character saying she can relate to how Mrs. Snowberry reacts to things.

Organization is the key to keeping up with school work while rehearsing and performing in a play, she said.

“”I try to get everything done ahead of time,” she said of homework. “I plan ahead a lot.”

Syrena Beihauer, a fifth grader at Rolling Hills Elementary School in Fairfield, is playing Mrs. Bedwin in the show. She transforms her youthful appearance into that of an elderly woman by wearing old clothes, a wig and bonnet.

“It’s fun to do these people,” she said of acting.

Now she’s just waiting for her dream role: the main character of Annie in the same titled show. It’s within the realm of possibilities as “Annie” is one of the shows J&S will be doing during 2014.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

  • Oliver
  •  J&S Theatre production
  •  7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Jan. 17-18,
  • 2 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, Jan. 18-19
  • 336 Cernon St., Vacaville.
  • 449-1200
  • www.jandsperformingarts.com
Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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