Steampunk Version of 'Oliver!' Being Staged by Long Island City Theater
LONG ISLAND CITY — It's Oliver Twist, with an extra twist.
The Secret Theatre in Long Island City is getting ready to stage a steampunk version of "Oliver! The Musical," merging the classic Charles Dickens-based play with the popular genre, which melds steam power-era style and technology with science fiction fantasy.
"I'm a bit of a sci-fi geek, and a bit nerdy about things like steampunk," said the theater's director, Richard Mazda, who played the title role of Oliver in his English hometown at age 13, and will take the role of Fagin in the upcoming production.
Mazda said he got the idea to do a steampunk version of the play two years ago, while he was watching the SyFy Channel show "Warehouse 13."
"There were elements of steampunk in that show and the next day 'Oliver!' popped in my head, and it all came together," he said.
"I just had this vision that, visually, it would look really, really arresting."
The play will take the stage for the holidays, running from Dec. 6 to 22. The director is Lenny Banovez.
Costume designer Becky Willett will dress the classic characters in elaborate steampunk ensembles, which borrow from British Victorian and American frontier-era fashion, with extra flourishes, such as aviator goggles and metallic detailing.
"It’s a very cool fusing of science fiction and antique looks," Mazda said.
The set will also feature steampunk elements and a band will be on stage — also in steampunk dress — to provide the soundtrack.
To help cover the costs of the customized set and costumes, The Secret Theatre has launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $5,000. They had raised more than $2,400 as of Monday morning, with seven days to go.
Donors will be entitled to Oliver!-themed perks and gifts, including props from the set — a replica of Fagin's pocket watch or Dodger's top hat — and even a traditional British holiday dinner, cooked by Mazda himself.
"It costs a lot of money to put on big shows," he said, of the reason for the fundraiser. "We walk a thin tightrope between breaking even and losing money, and occasionally making a profit."
Steampunk Oliver! isn't the first sci-fi themed production to hit Mazda's stage — the company put on the "Honeycomb Trilogy" in 2012, as well as the post-apocalyptic "Motherboard," and just finished running a series of short plays about sex with robots.
"The Secret [Theatre] has sort of become the home for sci-fi geek theater — so many shows here have that element to them," Mazda said.
"Oliver! The Musical" will run Dec. 6 to 22 at The Secret Theatre at 44-02 23rd St. in Long Island City. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children and $70 for a family four-pack. To contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.