Date 26th May 2012
Society Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust
Venue Floral Pavilion Theatre, New Brighton
Type of Production Musical
Director Elsie Kelly
Musical Director Tricia Gaskell


Author: Budge Grounsell

Choreographer: Charlotte Elverstone

Newcomers to Birkenhead Operatic shows will I am sure join the ranks of those who have followed them in the past in congratulating them on another excellent theatrical venture this time into the world of “Oliver. Bart’s vision of Dicken’s story is full of wonderful songs, echos of the dark side of victorian London and finely drawn characters. The workhouse boys extolling the virtues of fancy food but having to make do with gruel, the portentous Mr Bumble soon to fall into the clutches of Widow Corney, the Sowerberry’s, black as the clothes they wear in their life’s work. These are the characters who lead us into Oliver’s miserable world and their skill in interpreting these persons was commendable. Oliver (Harrison Shoemark) showed us he has a strong clear voice and the angelic countenance to capture the sympathy of the audience. his meeting with Dodger (Connor McIlroy) a loveable rogue whose message of “consider yourself” was well done and opened the way for our first glimpse into Fagin’s den of thieves. Cart wheels, leap frogging , strong movement and singing characterised and brought the urchin boys to life. Tony Prince as Fagin was a tour de force, leading his lads into a life of crime but always giving the impression that underneath that money grabbing exterior lay a soft heart; a lovely performance. The thieves kitchen scene offered us four of the finest songs in the show and introduced us to Nancy beautifully played and sung by Linzi Stefanov. The scene culminates with “be back soon” a sentiment wholly endorsed by the large audience as the interval followed.
Act 2 opens with the tavern scene and the cast made full use of this opportunity to establish their own character when joining Nancy in “Oom Pah Pah”. It was here that we were introduced to the villain of the piece, Bill Sykes played by a newcomer to the society Christopher Lee Power and I’m sure we shall see more of him in the future. We must not forget “Tilly” who is of course Bullseye, Bill’s dog,who was remarkably well behaved. Nancy’s rendition of “As long as he needs me “ was powerful and poignant.
Oliver had of course been initially rescued at this stage by Mr Brownlow and cosseted by Mrs Bedwin, small parts but effectively played by John Bowen and Sylvia Gregory. The story still has far to go, Olivers recapture by Bill Sykes, Nancy’s murder, and Sykes denouement on London bridge. Fagins exodus minus his treasure I think made everyone glad he had escaped the law. I have always liked “Who will buy” and was not disappointed with either the singing or the staging. Choreographer Charlotte Elverstone and ballet mistress Colette Clare clearly showed their expertise in the dancing and general movement and musical director Tricia Gaskell ably assisted by chorus mistress Rose Macpherson brought us fine singing. Let us not forget either the work of the backstage teams , seldom seen, but so important to the overall success of the production. Finally what can one say about the Director, Elsie Kelly, another triumph in a very long list of triumphs. long may she continue to delight us.