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“Oliver,” a staple in most children’s theaters, is making its way to Ahwatukee Children’s Theatre (ACT) for the first time this year.

Auditions for the show will be this Friday, Jan. 11, at 5 p.m.

Michele Rubino, founder and executive director of ACT, said the children’s theater has never taken “Oliver” on in the past for two reasons: they needed to be sure they had a solid community of boys to fill the parts and they wanted to be sure they could present the show the way it was meant to be preformed.

“I know a lot of people think when they go see ‘Oliver’ they’ll see a male ‘Annie,’ but it’s really not,” Rubino said. “It’s a lot deeper and the music is very different from ‘Annie.’”

The music in “Oliver” includes well known tunes like “Food, Glorious Food” and “Consider Yourself.” The story follows an orphan boy, Oliver, who is sold, runs away, becomes a pick-pocket for a short amount of time and somehow ends up living with a wealthy man.

Directors Bailey Isenberg and Melissa Snow said they hope to have a cast of around 40 people. The cast will include kids kindergarten age through adults. There are some parts that adults will be cast to play. Girls can join the cast of “Oliver” as well.

“There are a lot of nice feature parts in this show,” Snow said. “It’s a nice ensemble show. There are lots of small feature parts that make it possible for members of the ensemble to have some solos or a line or two.”

“Oliver” features mostly male main characters. Staff members at ACT hope the show will encourage more boys to give acting a try.

“You see ‘Annie’ over and over and ‘Oliver’ not as much and it’s just because of the smaller community of boys in theater,” Snow said. “That’s a message we want to get through is there’s a place for boys in the theater and we always need boys. We want to open it up and try and find new boys if they’ve been looking for something new or been doing choir at school, they can get on the theater stage. This is a place for them.”

Anyone is welcome to audition, including walk-ins. Those interested do not need to be members of ACT or taken a class there in the past. For auditions actors should prepare one song, which does not need to be from “Oliver.” Songs should be karaoke.

Auditions will be held at ACT, 5051 E. Elliot Road.

Callbacks will be on Jan. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon. Practices will begin on Jan. 13. There is a $220 production fee if cast. The show will debut in March.

For more information, call (480) 705-9319.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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