Twilight’s production of‘Oliver!’ is a family affair

Tue, 07/21/2009 - 4:37pm
By: The Citizen

“Oliver!” will be presented by the Twilight Theatre starting this weekend at the Frederick Brown Jr, Amphitheater Over 50 adults and children have been studying lines, learning music, building sets, and sewing costumes. Some of the participants decided to become involved with the play as a way to stay busy over the long summer months, some did it because they love acting or supporting community theater productions. But others chose to do “Oliver!” so they could spend time with their very own family members.

The Grillo family of Peachtree City got the acting bug after participating in Twilight Theatre’s production of “The Music Man” last summer. Daughters Regan (13) and Avery (10) were cast in ensemble roles and their parents Bob and Lori were persuaded to fill “walk – on” roles that turned into speaking and dancing parts.

“The girls had such a fabulous time last summer that they couldn’t wait to audition for Oliver!. My husband jumped at the chance to be on stage again and I didn’t want to be left out of the family fun, so I agreed to be the producer for ‘Oliver.’ Once the singing started and the costumes came out, I couldn’t resist the stage either.,” said Lori.

All four Grillo family members will appear in the show; Bob is playing the role of Dr. Grimwig and is a member of the Adult Chorus, Lori is playing Mrs. Bedwin, a housekeeper, a role she didn’t need any training for. Avery will share the lead role of Oliver, performing in the Saturday night performances and join the Kids Chorus for the other shows. Regan is singing in both the Adult and Kids Chorus. The only member of the Grillo family who is not participating in Oliver! is the family dog, Tina.

The Echevarria family will also be well represented in “Oliver!” Alexa Echevarria (11) will share the lead role of Oliver. Her sister Madelyn (7) plays a thief and a young daughter in a musical number. Dad, Mike plays Mr. Bumble. Like the Grillo’s, this is not the Echevarria family’s first time in a local theater production. Alexa made her stage debut a few years back when Twilight produced “Annie”.

According to Mike Echevarria, “That got the acting bug going in our family. Alexa has since taken on many roles with the Fayette Coweta Family Theatre (FCFT). She is just finishing up a professional production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”. She and Madelyn will also appear in a commercial for Habitat for Humanity that is filming here in the Atlanta area.

When asked what the best part of performing with his daughters has been, Mike responded, “We have four kids, two older girls and two younger boys. I was always a baseball guy growing up and never even thought about the stage for myself. I’ve always loved musicals and plays but never thought I had it in me to leave my comfort zone and try it myself. I really pushed the girls to do sports because that’s what I knew. I soon realized that was not their calling. I really felt that I needed to figure out what it was that excited Alexa so much about the stage. I had seen her confidence and personality grow as she found something she loved and was gifted with some natural ability. I thought I should put myself in her shoes and try it myself. I now kick myself for not trying it earlier in life because I love it as much as my kids do. The chance to spend this creative time with my children has brought us so much closer together. We now have a common bond that can never be taken away.”

Another seasoned local theater family is the Spears family. Anna Kate (16), Maggie (13) and Benjamin (11) will all participate in “Oliver!.” Benjamin has been cast as the Artful Dodger, Anna Kate will sing in a quartet, Maggie is helping with choreography as the Dance Co-Captain, and Mom, Dana, will play the role of Mrs. Sowerberry. Making his stage debut is Dad, Phillip, who will sing in the Men’s Chorus. The Spears family has enjoyed participating in Twilight Theatre’s summer plays at the “Fred” for the past three years. This summer, Dad Phillip is joining in on the fun because he grew tired of being left at home during the evening rehearsals.

“The kids love being with their theater friends 3 or 4 days a week. It’s such a great activity for children and teens who think outside the box. As parents, we love watching them pursue their passions,” said Dana.

The Marcum family is also participating in “Oliver!”, Daniel (6), and Bobby (10) are members of the Children’s Chorus, Mom, LeeAura will Assistant Conductor and the pianist for the live orchestra, and Dad, Mike, is giving his support financially, assisting with the technical, moral, and musical support! The best part of participating as a family for the Marcum’s is having family time and learning something new together.

. Three members of the Stitt family from Peachtree City are participating in “Oliver!”. Dad, Evan has been cast in the role of Mr. Brownlow, and daughter Sarah (18) plays Nancy. The Stitt family has been acting in local productions for the last eight years. This is Sarah’s largest role to date; having played many supporting roles in numerous productions. She played three different roles in Twilight’s production of “Les Miserables.” Evan acted in college many years ago, and has enjoyed having the opportunity to share his love of the theater with his children. Mom, Susan, performs support activities for the theater group, and enjoys watching the girls and their Dad share an activity together.

The Ricker family; Emily (12), Olivia (9) and Dad, Rick are participating in Oliver!. Emily and Olivia are in the Children’s Chorus and Rick has the role of the Butcher. They chose to perform together so they could pursue an interest that they have in common and spend some great family time. They have enjoyed carpooling with other cast members; practicing the songs in the car and in the house. This is Rick’s first play, while the girls are experienced thespians.

Participating in summer theater is a wonderful opportunity for everyone in the show. It is an opportunity to do something unusual during summer vacation, but most importantly, the families who choose to participate have a terrific opportunity to share quality time together. As Lori Grillo said, “A family that (does) plays together, stays together!!”

“Oliver!” the musical will be performed by the Twilight Theatre at the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater July 24, 25, 31, and Aug. 1 at 8 p.m. (gates open at 7:40 p.m.) at the Frederick Brown, Jr. Amphitheater in Peachtree City. Ticket prices are $15 for general admission, $13 for students, senior, military personnel and tables of 6 are available for $125. Visit for more information.

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Submitted by susanlst on Wed, 07/22/2009 - 8:38am.

It's going to be a great show! So many kids and adults have worked months on this production - please reward them by coming to see this show. This would be a great opportunity to expose your children to live theater - right here in Peachtree City!

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