Adults have key roles in 'Oliver!' production

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John Greene had his reasons for mounting a Young Artists Repertory Theatre production that included adults, and only one was selfish.

Mr. Greene is both directing and appearing in the YART production of Oliver! , opening Friday at Augusta Prep's Hull Theatre. He said that while he does have altruistic reasons for producing the lavish musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist , he also was attracted to the idea of playing the antihero Fagin.

"That was one of the reasons," he said with a laugh. "I've always wanted to play him. But another reason was I picked up in the community a certain prejudice against youth theater. I wanted to add to our core audience and I thought doing an adult show might attract people who might not have otherwise come."

Mr. Greene said he thought the mixed production of Oliver! was also an outstanding way to further some of the goals of YART, using theatrical production as a teaching tool. He hopes the musical might encourage some of his young performers to pick up Oliver Twist .

After six years of kid-only productions, Mr. Greene said he saw Oliver! as an opportunity for parents to do more than merely ferry young performers to and from rehearsals. Three families are performing together in the production.

"It's good for the kids," he said. "It's good for them to see adults, to see me, doing the work, running lines, learning dance steps."

Mr. Greene does not, however, plan on making a habit of casting adults in YART shows. He said it might happen again, but that the plan is for YART to continue to be a place for young actors to develop their craft.

"This is a rare occasion."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com

ON STAGE

WHAT: Oliver!, presented by the Young Artists Repertory Theatre


WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday


WHERE: Hull Theatre, Augusta Preparatory Day School, 285 Flowing Wells Road


COST: $15 general, $10 children, students and seniors. For more information, go to www.yart.org


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