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Santa Barbara Youth Ensemble Theater Puts Its Own Twist on ‘Oliver!’

Members of the high-caliber performance group also had the opportunity to record with Rod Stewart for his upcoming Christmas album

Big things are happening for the kids in the Santa Barbara Youth Ensemble Theater, including their upcoming performance of Oliver! and their recent recording session with Rod Stewart.

This high-caliber performance group, under the direction of Broadway veteran Janet Adderley and choreographed by Broadway dancer Melissa Chait, will shine on stage for performances of Oliver! at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday at the Lobero Theatre.

For tickets, click here or call the Lobero ticket office at 805.963.0761.

The nonprofit performance group highlights the talents and dedication of 48 local children, ranging in age from 6 to 16, who have rehearsed the classic play for nine months.

Adderley, owner and creator of the Adderley School for the Performing Arts and SBYET, said the children are trained on a professional level. Adderley said she chooses children from her school to perform in SBYET based on their personal growth.

“They’re selected for the Santa Barbara Youth Ensemble Theater because they are incredible singers, actors and have incredible self-control, focus and self-motivation,” Adderley said. “These kids were so right and so ready for this performance, that I wanted to give them the chance to be on stage.”

Some of Adderley’s students have gone on to perform on Broadway, at the Hollywood Bowl and in Madison Square Garden. Most recently, a group of Adderley School students had the opportunity to record with Stewart for his upcoming Christmas album. Adderley said Stewart was “amazed” by the talent of the children, who have never had an experience like that before.

Stewart isn’t the only celebrity who recognizes the talents of SBYET performers. Adderley said actor Rob Lowe, who decided he wanted to be an actor after his performance in Oliver! as a boy, will give an introductory speech before the Sunday night show.

“They are local Santa Barbara kids, and they have done things on the national scale,” Adderley said. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do Oliver!, to showcase my younger kids.”

SBYET puts a musical spin on Charles Dickens’ classic tale, Oliver Twist, the story of a young boy who joins a band of young thieves in search of his family. Accompanied by professional orchestration, the cast will sing and dance to popular tunes such as “Food, Glorious Food” and “Be Back Soon,” bringing the streets of London to Santa Barbara.

Adderley said Chait, who drives from Los Angeles twice a week to rehearse with the children, gave the children the chance to perform professional-quality choreography.

“It’s spellbinding to see that she’s been able to get 6- to 8-year-old kids who may not have danced before to look like Broadway stars,” Adderley said.

She said SBYET is the only high-caliber performing arts group for children in the area. With performances on Mother’s Day, Adderley expects the show will draw a large audience.

Noozhawk intern Madison Medeiros can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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