Oliver!

Date 21st March 2015
Society Alnwick Stage Musical Society
Venue The Playhouse, Alnwick
Type of Production Musical
Director Lynne Lambert (Asst. Arlene Cadman)
Musical Director Peter Brown
Choreographer Penny Brown (additional choreography by Lynne Lambert and Andrew Stewart)

Report

Author: Gordon Richardson

During the overture, the draconian conditions of the workhouse for both young and old alike were impressed upon the audience through a brief prologue and, hence, you could place more fully into context the character Oliver asking the iconic line “Can I have some more!”

The title role of Oliver was played most convincingly by Aidan Stuart with his sweet, clear voice accurately keeping in tune and acting the somewhat refined but ‘down at luck’ orphan. Beadle of the workhouse and his wife to be Widow Corney were played by Anthony Stoker and Sally Plumford respectively and excelled in their duo of “I Shall Scream’ with the use of an animatronics cat in basket being a nice touch.
The undertakers, Mr and Mrs Sowerbery, (Norman Luke and Ali Wragham) alongside their daughter, Charlotte, and her beau, Noah Claypole, (Megan Brown and Arthur Mills) were suitably sombre in expression as befitted their characters, and sang the comedy duo of “That’s Your Funeral” really well.
Upon escaping the funeral parlour, Oliver came across The Artful Dodger, played by Isaac Mills, whose solo/turned chorus number “Consider Yourself” was one of the highlights of the show with its bright lively movement, leading seamlessly into the den of Fagin, played well by David Wilson, and the urchins under his command, including Charley (Oscar Wilson). In Fagin’s den we met the characters of Bet and Nancy (Lauren Robinson and Leonie Airlie) whose numbers of “Small Pleasures” and “I’d Do Anything” captivated the audience, with Lauren charismatic performance proving herself to be more than a simple ‘sidekick’ to Nancy.  Nancy’s main solo, “As Long As He Needs Me” was sung with such feeling that the audience held their collective breath.

A touch of evil was introduced in the second act with the malevolent character of Bill Sykes, played in suitable menacing manner by Phil Gregory – I’m sure Phil’s a nice chap, but I wouldn’t like to meet his alter ego down the darkened streets of Alnwick if that performance is typical.  Pity he didn’t have a suitably menacing dog, Bullseye...
Oliver’s grandfather, Mr Brownlow (Stuart Archer), ably aided by Andy Griffin as Dr Grimwig, were well cast, as was the housekeeper Mrs Bedwin played by Jane Smith who sang her solo reprise of ‘Where is Love’ really well.
Another highlight of the show for me was the introduction of the ‘vendors’ in the “Who Will Buy?” number – well done to all for some superb harmonised vocals (Peter Biggers, Sarah Purvis, Mariana Santiago-Bennett, Teresa McQuillen and Trevor Porteous).
Costumes were more than adequate, and the mismatched coloured of the urchins an accurate interpretation of the ‘mix and make do’ austere conditions. The sextet of musicians (suitably dressed for the occasion) played well, with MD Peter Brown leading from the keyboard. A special mention to the gentleman who played the inter-chorus sections of “Reviewing the Situation” on the clarinet – equally as effective as any violin I have heard in the past.
This was a well directed and well rehearsed production with many small but effective additions by director Lynne. Well done Alnwick...