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On Friday and Saturday, January 13 and 14, CHA’s 8th Grade Class of 2017 presented three performances of Oliver Twist, Joellen Bland’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel. (see photos below)

Directed by CHA Language Arts Teacher, Mrs. Sharon James-Ledbetter, and supported by a team of volunteers, the students worked together on all aspects of the play, including cast and crew, set design and construction, props, costumes, make up, lighting and sound, musical accompaniment and publicity.

The play opens in mid-1800’s London, with a group of orphans,  including one named Oliver Twist (Sam C.), who are mistreated and poorly fed in a workhouse managed by a cruel overseer, Mr. Bumble (Ethan T.) and matron, Mrs. Corney (Isabel S.). Seen as a trouble maker, Oliver is sold to work for an undertaker and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry (Josh C., Jessie A.), a situation from which he manages to escape.

Finding himself alone on the streets of London, Oliver meets the young Artful Dodger (Jeremiah L.), a member of a gang of street children led by the elderly criminal, Fagin (Kaden I.). With the intent to snare Oliver into the young gang of thieves, Dodger convinces him with promises of food and shelter to come back to their den.

Later, the children of Fagin’s gang rob a man on the street named Mr. Brownlow (Christian B.). The boys who actually rob Brownlow get away, leaving Oliver to face the police. Mr. Brownlow believes Oliver’s claim of innocence and takes him in.

The plot thickens as Oliver’s fate may lie in the actions of Bill Sykes (Aaron S.), Fagin’s violent associate in crime; his good-hearted, but misguided girlfriend, Nancy (Lilly P.); and the mysterious and scheming Miss Monks (Anna A.).

Violence and even a murder ensues, but in the end, an act of selfless-sacrifice, a special locket and the protective kindness of Mr. Brownlow lead to Oliver’s vindication and restored identity into the family to which he was born.

Mrs. James-Ledbetter noted that, just as Mr. Brownlow becomes a father to the fatherless boy Oliver, so God chooses to adopt us into His family. “I will be a father to you,” says the Lord, “and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18).

Many thanks to Mrs. Ledbetter, all of our wonderful 8th graders, and the many parents, faculty, staff and administrators who helped to make this moving production of Oliver Twist a resounding success!


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