Today's trivia question: What highly popular former pop star appeared, in a far different role, on the "Ed Sullivan Show" the same night as the first Beatles appearance?
Hints may or may not (depending on how you read this thing) be found within the text of the following story about the opening of Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre's production of the musical, "Oliver!"
The show opens July 20 in Livermore's Bankhead Theatre, and with it comes not only a boatload of great music and the compelling story of Oliver Twist, the young London orphan created by Charles Dickens, but a surprising array of trivia including the fact that Barry Humphries (Dame Edna) and Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior Soprano in "The Sopranos") have appeared in "Oliver!" productions.
"Please, sir, may I have some more?" You ask.
"More?" I reply, "Of course."
Perhaps you have the idea this show originally slipped from the West End to New York's Broadway for its American debut. But, these poor, huddled masses slipped into Los Angeles and their set to San Pedro, to launch their American debut as part of the L.A. and San Francisco Light Opera, before getting to know The Great White Way.
The show truly does have a nice history and remains an extremely charming story telling the triumphant tale of young Oliver Twist's adventure in moving from riches to rags and back again to riches. And it's told with an array of great songs, including, "Food, Glorious Food," "Where Is Love?" "Consider Yourself," "I'd Do Anything" and "As Long As He Needs Me."
Tri-Valley Rep's production is directed by John Baiocchi, choreographed by Todd Aragon, with musical direction by Cary Litchford. Featured performers include Trevor Gomez (Oliver), Paul Plain (Fagin), Ron Houk (Bill Sykes), Julia Etzel (Nancy), Max DeSantis (Artful Dodger), Lucas de Ayora (Mr. Bumble), Sophia Delucchi (Bet), Shauna Shoptaw (Widow Corney), Gary Foley (Mr. Sowerberry), Julie Dahms (Mrs. Sowerberry), Noah McMoyler (Noah), Gary Bennett (Mr. Brownlow), Cassidy Kepp (Charlotte), Colin FitzMaurice (Charley), Betsy Edwards (Old Sally), Maren Haws (Mrs. Bedwin), Alexis Wong (Rose Seller) and Brian FitzMaurice (Grimwig).
They all combine to tell the story of Oliver, a foundling in wealthy circumstances who finds himself cast adrift on the mean streets of 1830s London, where he is taken under the wing of the kids in Fagin's gang that, with the help of their master, teach him the fine art of pickpocketing. He takes well to the new position, but finds himself yearning for family and home as the story unwinds toward a happy ending.
"Oliver!" plays in the Bankhead Theater at 2400 First St. in Livermore from July 20 through Aug. 4 with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets, at $28 to $38, may be reserved at 925-373-6800 or http://tickets.livermoreperformingarts.org/single/psDetail.aspx?psn=2831.
Trivia Question's Answer: The star was Davy Jones, the charming British centerpiece for The Monkees, a made-for-TV pop group that assumed a life of its own in records and performance (as well as the somewhat less successful film, "Head," of which we may speak no more).
Kabaret ... for Kids!: A musical variety show, hosted by theater and cabaret performer Samantha Samuels, returns to Pleasanton's Firehouse Arts Center at 4444 Railroad Ave. for 2 p.m. matinees July 12 and Aug. 2.
Songs were created for the show by songwriters Eric Vetro and Steven Shore, winner of two Emmy Awards. The production features talented young people from the Contra Costa and Tri-Valley areas. Performers include Pleasanton's teen improv troupe, Creatures of Impulse; performances from The Music Box Theatre Company's production of "All Shook Up;" 15 year-old magician Jack Alexander; as well as a variety of other local performers. Tickets cost $8 to $12 and are available at 925-931-4848 or www.firehousearts.org.
Contact Pat Craig at email@example.com.