Nicholas Nickleby The Musical

Date 26th October 2012
Society Bedford Marianettes
Venue The Place, Bedford
Type of Production Musical
Director Tim Brewster
Musical Director Rob Brand


Author: Enid Cooper

This was certainly an event for Bedford Marianettes because it was the World Premiere of a new musical written by the director Tim Brewster. Based on Charles Dickens’ book, it captured the events and characters in the life of the Nickleby family. Tim Brewster is to be congratulated for composing the music and writing the lyrics of this musical. It was tuneful, with clever harmonies including solo and ensemble items. This is quite an achievement! Musical Director Rob Brand ensured a musical performance of a high standard. There were some excellent voices on show – Keith Pendall’s Ralph Nickleby, Dan Pothecary’s Nicholas, Alex Hadland as his mother, Emily Bennett as his sister, Charles Mills’s Crummles, Mark Haines and Peter Tipping as the Cheeryble brothers, Bill Prince and Jenny Curzon as the Squeers. This was a strong cast musically. The remaining ensemble also sang well and with confidence. The music and the musical performances were one of the strengths of this production. There are many challenges to overcome in condensing this detailed and complex book while at the same time capturing the vivid characters that inhabit the story. In addition perhaps the story is not so well known as Oliver, Great Expectations or David Copperfield, so the libretto has not only to tell a reduced story it also has to ensure that the extraordinary characters come to life. This is no mean feat. Tim tried to follow the main narrative of the story which for the most part was successful. The plot is a rollercoaster of emotions. The range of the emotional situations could have been more developed in performance, so that the contrasts could have added additional dynamism to the action. Scenes were of necessity short and so demanded much projection from the actors to make an impact. Some of Dickens’ characters came over well - Keith Pendall’s Ralph, Jenny Curzon’s Mrs Squeers, Charles Mill’s Crummles and particularly Chris Lynch as Smike – these actors were able to create Dickensian characters which stood out in their personality or eccentricity and as a result added pace and energy to the piece. This was a well rehearsed production. The large cast were enthusiastic and moved with confidence into the short scenes, which was impressive. The talented cast performed within a well constructed libretto with a remarkable musical setting. Congratulations to the Marianettes for not only presenting such an entertaining evening but also for having the courage to use local talent to such an appealing and successful effect. I feel sure many local amateur musical societies would wish to stage this musical in the future. They can find out more about this musical at