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‘Oliver!’ hopefuls emerge

Despite being a theater regular, Brexdyn LaDieu still had a little bit of audition nerves.

The 11-year-old has been involved in tap, ballet and jazz. He auditioned for “Peter Pan” last year at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, and landed the role of a Lost Boy named Spike.

Still, his anxiety was evident in a third-floor classroom at the Suffolk Center on Saturday as he wrung his hands behind his back and softly sang his audition piece. The musical director and director apparently know talent when they see it, though — Brexdyn immediately got an invitation to return to the center this week for callbacks.

“We’re having a lot of fun,” Suffolk Center Executive Director Paul Lasakow said. “We’ve seen some great talent come through … but I’d like to see some more adults.”

Brexdyn was auditioning for “Oliver!” a play based on Charles Dickens’ classic tale of an orphan who falls in with a gang of pickpockets. “Oliver!” is the second play in the community theater project at the center — the first being last year’s production of “Peter Pan,” for which a handful of professional actors were hired to round out the adult roles.

“We are committed to being a community theater,” Lasakow said, emphasizing he would use professionals only as a last resort. “I bet there’s somebody out there in the community who can do just as good a job.”

Brexdyn was far from the only young person auditioning Saturday. Christian Ellis, 13, came to the auditions hoping to land the role of the Artful Dodger.

“I always wanted to be an actor,” Christian said.

Vanessa Campbell, 8, was shy and soft-spoken before the audition, but her demeanor belied her aptitude for singing. Once in the audition room, Vanessa belted out “Part of Your World,” from Disney’s animated classic “The Little Mermaid.”

“She’s my favorite Disney cartoon character,” Vanessa said, adding she hoped to get any role in the musical.

Lynnette Wright brought her nephew, Tyshaun Parker, 6, to the auditions hoping to find a positive outlet for his energy, she said.

“He sings all the time around the house,” Wright said, adding she tried to get him interested in basketball. “While he was playing basketball, he was singing.”

Tyshaun, who calls himself Michael Jackson’s biggest fan, sang the late musician’s classic “I’ll Be There.”

Wright hoped this endeavor would be more successful than sports.

“He’s super friendly,” Wright said. “Everyone loves him.”