The musical version of Oliver Twist hopes to open a discussion on several social issues when it debuts Nov. 1

GARY ALLEN - Director Mike McConaughey is enlisting the help of 16 fourth- through sixth-grade students in staging 'Oliver!' at Newberg High School.

A boy on the streets searches for a home. He is an orphan often faced with the harsh realities of life on the streets before finally finding a place to fit in.

That's the story Newberg students will tell in the school's upcoming fall musical. And if it sounds familiar, it should: it's the story of Oliver Twist, famous from the Charles Dickens novel of the same name.

Director Mike McConaughey said the drama department chooses the kinds of performances it stages in the fall from a classic, a family-oriented show and a modern day show.

"Oliver!", the musical based on "Oliver Twist," fit comfortably into the classical section. McConaughey said this musical was also a good fit because it has a large cast, so they could get more students involved. There are about 60 cast members, plus 15 musicians in the orchestra pit and another 15 or 16 behind stage. And it's not just high school students involved either. This year, auditions were held for students in fourth through sixth grade; 30 auditioned and about 16 were cast.

"So there's about 85 or 90 of us," he said. "It's a pretty big deal."GARY ALLEN - Auditions began in June and rehearsals commenced the week before school started in September for NHS' first play of the season.

Auditions began in June and rehearsals commenced the week before school started in September. After about eight weeks of rehearsals, the cast will kick off the show at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 in Drea Ferguson Auditorium. It continues again Nov. 2-3 and again Nov. 8-10. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. However, McConaughey said those arriving with canned goods for a food drive that night will see their tickets reduced to $8 and $5, respectively. He added that the reduction in ticket prices for food donors is to showcase one of the themes in "Oliver!" -- hunger from poverty.

McConaughey said since this is a classic Dickens story it has its share of darker themes. The book and musical deal with poverty, food insecurity, crime, domestic violence and other social themes. While the end is a heartwarming one and there are humorous moments, the story is far from a light affair.

"It's a typically well-known story of Oliver Twist the orphan who is trying to find a home, a place to belong, so he goes through a number of different trials of how that is going to happen," he said.

In response to those themes, the troupe plans to bring in people who represent different local social services. That way these services can put their names out into the community. McConaughey said the play has a nice social commentary and will allow for discussions to be opened in the community.

"Hopefully it will be a time when people can get to know the services of our community better than they have already," he said. "The show brings up those themes so it brings up a good starting point for a conversation."

School briefs

C.S. Lewis hires a new admissions coordinator

C.S. Lewis Academy recently hired Kim Eubanks to be its new admissions coordinator, a position that will be part-time through the end of the school year. She takes the spot formerly held by Dianne Sargent.

NHS Pizza Night Fundraiser set for Wednesday

The Newberg High School Performing Arts Booster Club, a subset of the Newberg Boosters, will host a Pizza Night Fundraiser from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 24) at Round Table Pizza. The event includes dine-in, delivery and carry out, but excludes beer, wine, coupons and sales tax.

Mabel Rush Holiday Bazaar Nov. 10

Mabel Rush Elementary School will host its Seventh Annual Holiday Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 10. The event is open to all artisans, local crafters and small home-based businesses. For more information on becoming a vendor, call Kara Davidhi at 971-400-7856 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Immunization clinic Oct. 30

Yamhill County Public Health will host an immunization clinic from 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Edwards Elementary School cafeteria. Students under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult and the have their most up-to-date shot record. Students covered by insurance must present an insurance card, but no student will be turned away for the inability to pay. For more information, call Annie Berger at 503-554-5363.

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