This big, splashy musical, with book by William F. Brown and Tina Tippit, lyrics by Tena Clark, and music by Clark and Gary Prim, is loosely adapted from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, reset in New Orleans and given a bi-racial spin: Twist is a mulatto, son of a white mother, Angela (Ava Gaudet), and a black father (Jared Grimes). They are attacked by the local Ku Klux Klan, including Angela's arrogant and unscrupulous brother Lucius (Pat McRoberts), and the infant Twist is left in an orphanage. Jump to 1928: Twist (Alaman Diadhiou) is now 10 years old, ignorant of his parentage, and still in the orphanage. But greedy Uncle Lucius, having learned that the family fortune has been left to Twist, seeks to grab him as a key to the money. Dickens' Nancy becomes the good-hearted prostitute Della (Tamyra Gray) who befriends the boy. Fagin and Bill Sykes are combined in the role of Boston (Matthew Johnson), the local vice-king, bootlegger and Della's pimp. The score is seldom memorable, but it gives the huge, terrific cast a chance to shine on Todd Rosenthal's lavish, fast-moving, New Orleans-flavored sets. Director-choreographer Debbie Allen leads the athletic dance-ensemble in several dynamic musical numbers, including a Mardi Gras parade, complete with floats, stilt walker, "native" dancers, and yards of Mardi Gras beads. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molina Ave., Pasadena; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m., Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. (added mats July 6 & 13, 2 p.m.); thru July 17. (626) 356-PLAY or pasadenaplayhouse.org.
Sun., June 26, 7 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m.; Wed., July 6, 2 p.m.; Wed., July 13, 2 p.m. Starts: June 26. Continues through July 24, 2011