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Or, the Parish Boy's Progress

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Pioneer Players will be staging a production based on Charles Dickens’ beloved Oliver Twist at the Templeton Performing Arts Center. The tale of an orphaned waif, condemned to labor, abuse, and corruption is set to music and lyrics by Lionel Bart.

Featuring the famous phrase, “Please sir, I want some more,” Oliver Twist was Dickens’ second novel, after The Pickwick Papers. The good-hearted title character navigates a world that is often darkly criminal, though he eventually comes out on top. Besides being transformed into musical theater, the tale has been the subject of films and television shows. It was also one of the earliest social novels, calling attention to societal ills like the Poor Law, as well as child labor.

Among Dickens’ other novels are The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. The majority of his novels were originally printed in journals in weekly or monthly installments. In addition to advocating on behalf of the poor through his writing, Dickens established a home for “fallen women,” a place where they could learn to read and write and slowly rejoin society.

The Pioneer Players are based in the North County and have been staging musical productions locally since 1965. According to the mission statement, the company is “dedicated to providing an environment that nourishes and encourages the art and value of live theatre through awareness and participation in all aspects of stage production.” Among their past productions are Guys and Dolls, The King and I, Into the Woods, Pirates of Penzance, My Fair Lady, Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, and Oklahoma. The company is always in search of stage managers, directors, musical directors, musicians, costumes, lighting directors, and performers.

Productions take place Jan. 15, 22, and 29 at 8 p.m.; Jan. 16, 23, and 30 at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for children and seniors. The Templeton Performing Arts Center is located at 1200 S. Main St. To purchase tickets call 239-1638. For more information visit pioneerplayers.org.

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