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ALTON - Alton Little Theater has a fantastic 91st season ahead.

With five shows on the docket, Alton Little Theater (ALT) is sure to stay busy in the months ahead. Tickets are on sale now for “Oliver!,” to premiere on the ALT stage on Aug. 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10 and 11, 2024. Lee Cox, executive director, noted that rehearsals are going well and ALT can’t wait to welcome community members from across the region to see all of their hard work.

“I’m so excited,” Cox said. “We have 31 incredible performers, and only four people in the cast have appeared on our stage before. The rest of them are all new performers and we have 19 incredible kids. I love all of them.”

Cox explained that the “Oliver!” cast is young and eager to act. She has loved watching them grow into the characters and develop as performers. For many of them, this is the first time they’ve worked with a theater company like ALT.

Cox is proud of their achievements, especially as they learn the 15 musical numbers in the show. She pointed to musical director Mary Mahoney and choreographer Orcennio Gaines as great resources who have helped the kids learn their roles.

“We had musical rehearsal, and you cannot expect 8-, 9-, 10-, 11-, 12-year-olds to read music, so I was kind of surprised that week. I thought, it’s going to be rough,” Cox remembered. “But Mary Mahoney just really worked with them, and they have good ears. They just sing and they sing out and they have energy. And then the dancing — the adults, who of course did a little better with reading music, they’re like, oh my God, those kids are putting us to shame. They can do every step.”

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As the cast develops, the two leads have proven their abilities every night at rehearsal. Knox Schell, who plays Oliver, and Finn Kane, the Artful Dodger, are “beyond adorable and so talented,” Cox said. She joked that their mothers spend every rehearsal in the back of the house, crying as they watch their sons perform.

“I’m like, I’m very proud of them too, but you know, I think they’re going to have long careers in theater. You’re going to have to save some tears,” Cox laughed.

Behind the scenes, Cox and director Kevin Frakes have made a point to spend locally as they gather props and scenery for the show. They’re excited to kick off the 91st season with this Broadway classic, and they can’t wait to unveil new incentives to come to the theater.

Starting this season, there will be three matinees to every show. The first Sunday and the second Saturday and Sunday of the run will have matinee performances, meant to encourage people to come from far and wide to see the show. With five great productions planned, season tickets are on sale now for only $85 until Aug. 31.

Groups of 20 or more can receive $2 off admission upon total payment, with an additional free ticket for any tour director or bus driver. ALT is also looking for advertisers and show sponsors, who can have their ad featured and in front of approximately 5,000 theatergoers over the course of the season.

Call ALT at 618-462-3205 to find out more about season tickets, ticket discounts and advertising. Community members are encouraged to visit AltonLittleTheater.org for more information about their work and casting. There are casting calls through January for over 80 roles in the 91st season.

Cox expects that “Oliver!” and the rest of the season will go off without a hitch. She has enjoyed working with the young cast as well as a few veteran performers, and she can’t wait to watch the story come to life onstage in August.

“We try to educate them about theater movement and costumes and all the aspects of it,” Cox added. “We’re committed to casting as many new talents as we can.”

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