Whoever said that nothing succeeds like excess must have had last year's production of Nicholas Nickleby at CalShakes in mind. Codirectors Jonathan Moscone and Sean Daniels gave audiences the Dickens in a big way, and two dozen Bay Area actors ate well for several months. David Edgar's adaptation of Dickens' serial, even cut down from eleven hours, was so big it took two productions to show properly. And what a show it was, with singing, melodrama, fabulous costumes, evil villains, brave damsels, cliffhangers, and virtue winning the day over treachery and cynicism. Daniels and Moscone steered their massive cast expertly as the story moved from grim London to the even grimmer Dotheboys Hall and back, and the actors showed off an impressive array of accents, moods, and characters. It was the kind of show that answers the questions "Why theater?" and "Why now?" with verve and inventiveness from the first muffin missile to the last flake of real fake snow.