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Whitney Point Community Productions Presents 'Oliver'

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Whitney Point Community Productions has been entertaining audiences with local talent for 35 years. The theater group brings people together from all backgrounds to participate in its bi-annual theater productions at Whitney Point High School. This year's production is Oliver, a musical based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Director and Program Coordinator Jo-Anne Knapp was a rehearsal accompanist for the inaugural production of Oliver in 1982.

"From my perspective, it's amazing to watch. I think when we first started there was a lot of direction needed for people. Now people are so excited and have been accumulating shows in their own repertoires that their anxious to get started, and they start to bring characters with them right to auditions," said Knapp.

Time for planning, preparation and budget constraints limit the productions to every two years, but participants don't mind waiting. The creative collaboration of community members, school faculty, students and local business is something everyone involved looks forward to.

"When I got involved in with it, I knew absolutely nothing about being in a theater group, and soon as I got done with the first play, the very next day we were wondering what the next play was going to be, and had to wait 2 years," said Dean Jordan, an actor in the role of Fagin in this year's production. "We wait and we plan in between, waiting for what it is going to be, and it's just, it's wonderful to be with this whole group."

Participation in Whitney Point Community Production is community, and family affair. Jessica Burke who started with plays at the high school when she was a student in 2003, returned after taking time off for college and family. Now that her children are old enough, Jessica and her husband are like many others of the ensemble -- fully engaged in the play's production, despite having full-time jobs.

"We're here from 6:30 until about 10 every Monday through Thursday, putting in all of the work, doing all of the set building at Saturday mornings. My husband has been gone every Saturday since January for from 9 in the morning until about 1 at least,' said Burke. "Doing all of the painting. Doing all of the engineering work. They do everything and it's incredible to watch it all come together."

The cast and crew includes a wide range of ages and specialties. With so many roles to fill, on and off stage, any one is welcome to audition or lend a hand in upcoming productions.

"You're not going to regret coming out. We're all great people, even if we play horribly mean people. Everybody that comes in, there's backstage people, there's set design. You don't have to be onstage. Just come and be part of the family."

This year's production of Oliver will be at the Whitney Point High School Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on March 31 and April 1. Ticket are $10. You can purchase them by calling (607) 634-4002.