This is for you, Patty...or Oliver!, Revisited

I meant to write this post three weeks ago, but between trips to the doctor for pnuemonia (TM), nearly broken finger (M), strep throat (P), and stomach flu (everyone), I have been a little preoccupied.

I promised my friend, Patty, that I would discuss the educational benefits of what we have come to call the "Oliver! Curriculum". Since Oliver! became all-consuming to our family for much of the month of March and left very little time for much else (we managed eating and sleeping...laundy didn't make the cut), I thought I would take a look at what our "learning outcomes" were as a result. So join me as I translate the musical Oliver! into education-eze.

Language Arts:
  • Listened to the unabridged recording of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • Discussed Charles Dickens -- where and when he lived, who his contemporaries were, and how he wrote his novels (He was paid by the word for those who are interested.)
  • Memorized lines for Oliver!
  • Compared and contrasted the novel, Oliver Twist, with the musical, Oliver!
  • Discussed unusual vocabulary words, taking special note of archaic or Bristish-based words
  • Discussed the use of satire to comment on social ills
  • Improved public speaking skills


  • Discussed the pricing of renting various musicals, why they were priced differently, and how that affected our choice of musicals
  • Discussed the rental fees of different theaters--what was included and excluded, what extra or hidden fees there were (ie hiring cleaning staff, insurance), and how to figure total cost
  • Discussed how ticket prices had to be based on the various costs of putting on the show


  • Discussed the Victorian period in England--what was happening within England, what was happening in other countries, how was society different from ours at that time, how did society allow what happened to children such as Oliver, what effect did Charles Dicken's novels have on society
  • Research on clothing of Victorian England


  • Watched both live and recorded versions of Oliver!
  • Learned the musical score--involved choral singing, solo singing, singing in parts, dynamics, articulation, awareness of pitch and tempo
  • Practiced and improved acting skills and abilities
  • Developed an awareness and understanding of the various roles and occupations available in theater--director, musician, actor, lighting coordinator, set designer, costumer, stage manager

Physical Education

  • Learned choreography for show, including learning a gavotte
  • Increased physical stamina--singing and dancing a two hour show is physically challenging

While these academic-type things are well and good, it is the intangibles that I believe make all the effort worthwhile. The cast members learned what it means to have someone depend on you and the consequenses if you don't do your part. They learned that to do something well takes hard work and that hard work pays off in the end. They learned to take directions and both compliments and criticism in a public setting. they learned to work with and become friends with a wide group of people. (The cast ranged from five years to adult.) They learned to speak in front of an audience. Considering the number of adults who are afraid to speak in public, this is a skill which will last a lifetime. So, while the math books may have gathered a little dust, I believe it was well worth it.

Thus ends my final post on Oliver! (really). The show went incredibly well and played to sold out crowds all three nights. The cast had a ball and the audiences loved it and I was incredibly proud of everyone. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.


KelleyO said…
I love Oliver! My daughter played an orphan boy. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats...(SNL?)

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