Oliver!

Date 12th March 2015
Society Blyth Music and Theatre Company Ltd
Venue Phoenix Theatre, Blyth
Type of Production Musical
Director Jackie Grey
Musical Director Wendy Henderson
Choreographer Jackie Grey

Report

Author: Jim Graham

Lionel Bart’s Oliver opened in June 1960 in London to rapturous applause and delight.  In 1963 it transferred to Broadway where it was equally well received.  Over the years there have been many professional revivals and the show remains a very firm favourite with amateur societies.  I personally was delighted to be invited by the Society as for me it marked the last show I would be attending as the NODA Regional Representative as I had decided to stand down.  The Show lived up to its reputation with the Blyth Society presenting a very professional show to a full house each night of its run.

This production of Oliver was a first class show, enthusiastically directed by Jackie Grey with the music and orchestra in the capable hands of Wendy Henderson.  The Blyth stage is small and an excellent set by A1 Stage reduced the available acting area slightly.  The opening number “Food Glorious Food” amply illustrated how choreography could utilise the available space imaginatively whilst ensuring the singing was clear.  On the evening I was present Oliver was played by Matthew Diston.  He played the part well, singing clearly as well as portraying an angelic child. His counterpart Sam Kennedy would, I’m sure, have been equally good.  Amonik Melaco played the Artful Dodger together with David Olive on alternative evenings.  Amonik was a particularly mischievous Dodger, and  I liked his rendering of “Consider Yourself”.  Rebecca Currie was excellent as Nancy, with good support from Shaunagh Kelly, as Bet, in “It’s a Fine Life”.  Rebecca’s singing of “As Long As He Needs Me” was a tear-jerker with the audience.

Paul Godfrey, as Bill Sykes, gave a nasty, mean performance, accompanied by his faithfull dog Bullseye, played by Monty, who actually insisted in joining the action by barking.  Michael Douglas, who is no stranger to the stage, played the devious Fagin, showing what a good all-round actor he is.  Other principal parts were played by Chris Langlands and Valerie Everey, as Mr Bumble and Widow Corney, and Bob Douglas and Susan Laws, as Mr and Mrs Sowerberry, whose characters all contributed well to the story and action.

The set was effective and well used by the cast for entrances and exits- as it was also used by the unobtrusive stage-team.  Lighting was appropriate, although sometimes too dark to make out faces.  Sound was first class, with costumes by Alan Graham being relevant to the era.

All the principals, chorus and large 26-strong company of children gelled together  to give an excellent evening’s entertainment.