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"Oliver!" opens May 30

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SPRING VALLEY--The Spring Valley Stagehands' Theater Company is preparing for this spring's musical, "Oliver!"

Written by Lionel Bart in 1960, it is based on the novel "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens and tells the tale of an orphan boy who escapes his cruel keepers, only to find himself in a den of thieves overseen by the comically villainous Fagin. Along the way to a happy ending, you will meet many colorful characters played by friends and neighbors.

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One of the lead actors is Braeden DuMond, who won the title role of Oliver. Braeden, 12-years-old, is a Spring Valley native who is in the sixth grade. He was encouraged to try out by his piano teacher and showed up on the last night of auditions nervous about singing in front of his parents. He was surprised to get the title role, but very excited, too.

Braeden is in basketball and baseball, and plans to play football next fall. He has a very busy month ahead of him with musical rehearsals, but is looking forward to performances at the end of May and early June, then some time off to enjoy a summer family vacation to North Carolina.

The DuMond family loves animals, and has two cats, a dog and a parakeet named Priscilla. Braeden is thinking he may like to be a vet when he grows up. In school, his favorite subjects are math and reading. In the all-important border battle, Braeden counts himself a Packer fan, with Randall Cobb being his favorite player.

The song he likes singing the most is "Consider Yourself," a crowd-pleasing number with all the boys singing along. He is joined in the cast by his younger brothers Elijah and Harper, who play pickpockets and orphans. Their father, Jade, is also in the cast and mom, Carri, attends nearly every rehearsal. For the DuMonds, the show is a real family affair.

Another lead role went to Alex Kohler, 14, of Baldwin. He is an eighth grader at Baldwin-Woodville Middle School and won the role of the Artful Dodger, a junior criminal and show-off extraordinaire.

Alex is an experienced musical theater performer, having just played Chef Louie in his school's production of "The Little Mermaid." He auditioned for Oliver hoping for the role of Dodger, but a little fearful because he is a bit older than the character. He was very happy to get the role. His father, Dan, is also in the cast as Mr. Brownlow. Like Braeden, Alex's favorite song is "Consider Yourself" and he enjoys working with the younger cast members.

When not at rehearsals, Alex is in track and field at school. He throws discus and runs the 400 in about one minute. His favorite subject is math and he would like to get into engineering when he's done with schooling. His free time is devoted to music. He rocks a Les Paul guitar and plays the trombone for the school band, which is sending him to the state solo contest in Madison next month. He also likes making his own music. Alex is a Viking fan and particularly likes to watch Jared Allen play for the team.

In addition to Dan, his family includes older brother, Andrew, and mom, Sarah, and believe it or not, they have a Chihuahua named Oliver. It was meant to be!

The large cast includes: Braeden DuMond (Oliver), Alex Kohler (Dodger), Gregg Deutsch (Fagin), Michelle Schmitt (Nancy), Matt Summers (Bill Sykes), Chelsea Jorgenson (Bet), Jae Anderson (Widow Corney), Scott Brown (Mr. Bumble), Dan Kohler (Mr. Brownlow), Ellen Rominski (Mrs. Bedwin), Jade DuMond (Dr. Grimwig), Shelli Wood (Sally); Chorus - Jacob Woeltjen, Collin Huebel, Derek Huebel, Megan Rielly, MaKenna Johnson, Sydney DuMond, Alayna Shaw, Eva West, Lillie Anderson, Kelsey Betthauser, Jarod Rielly, Ethan Hayes; Pickpocket Gang/Orphans - Scott Reid, Roy Roberts, Kenny Fesenmaier, Tyler Bowman, Colton Kotval, Elijah DuMond, Justin Rielly, Cade Hannack, Jed Larson, Gabe Holton, Max Schmitt; Orphans - Olivia DuMond, Jack Brown, Harper DuMond, Serena Wussler, Samantha Brown, Simon Holton.

Come see the DuMonds, the Kohlers and the rest of this talented cast as they sing their hearts out in "Oliver!" Opening night is Thursday, May 30, (7 p.m.), with shows on Friday, May 31, (7 p.m.), Saturday, June 1, (7 p.m.) and a Sunday, June 2, matinee (2 p.m.), with a repeat schedule the following week (June 6-9). Online sale of tickets begins on May 1 at www.svstagehands.org.

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