Deaf West Theatre's first-ever musical, Lionel Bart's Oliver!, will open May 14 at the company's new NoHo arts district theatre in Los Angeles. Directed by Tony Award- nominated Jeff Calhoun, this is the first production to fully incorporate American Sign Language in a classical musical theatre piece. Deaf West's mounting is designed to integrate deaf actors using ASL and hearing actors and singers from the Equity community. The ensemble, many of whom will play numerous roles, will simultaneously sign, speak and sing -- ensuring total accessibility for both hearing and deaf audiences.
Adapted from Dickens' "Oliver Twist," the musical has a score packed with such popular songs as "As Long as He Needs Me" and "Where Is Love." Special theatre sound design by Douglas Green, Commercial Sound Works, Inc. incorporates custom-designed sub-woofers under the seats to allow deaf and hard-of-hearing members of the audience a means of sharing in the live orchestra experience.
Heading a cast of 21 are George McDaniel as Fagin, Antoinette Abbamonte and Susan Hoffman in the dually-cast role of Nancy, Ryan Schlecht as Bill Sikes, and young Joshua Ari Soudakoff as Oliver.
Calhoun choreographed last year's Tony Award-winning Annie Get Your Gun. He will choreograph the upcoming Broadway revival of Bells Are Ringing, which includes a pre-Broadway run at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Oliver! began previews May 11 and runs to June 25. Deaf West Theatre is located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd. For tickets and infromation call (818) 762-2773 (voice); (818) 762-2782 (TDD).