Oliver!

Date 28th May 2015
Society Wranglers Theatre Company
Venue Muse Theatre Lipson Co-operative Academy
Type of Production Musical
Director Wendy Holmes
Musical Director Gavin Martin
Choreographer Jessica Bailey

Report

Author: Michael Simpson

It helps to bring new young people into the theatre to produce old favourites and this production was a case in point. Well known through film and professional productions it was new to many of the youngsters involved and they seized the opportunity of being orphans and part of Fagin’s gang with enthusiasm. With such a large cast the producer has to keep a tight rein on that enthusiasm without dampening it and it was well controlled. The show is well known for its many songs and dances but there is a dark side, as in many of the ‘old musicals’. Nancy’s feeling for Sykes, the Squalor of London and the very little hope emanating from the orphanage.

The title role of Oliver was very well acted by Findlay Hutchins, he had an innocence in his portrayal and his singing of ‘Where is love’ was sung with feeling and brought a lump to the throat. His meeting with The Artful Dodger and introduction to Fagin and the gang sensitively handled. Gareth Davis and Alison Davis played Mr Bumble and Widow Corney respectively. The so very pompous and she so cunning, their duet ‘I shall scream’ was hilarious.

The Sowerberry’s, Jonathan Clarke and Samantha Ansell gave two really entertaining performance also their duet ‘That’s your funeral ‘was also well sung and acted. Andrew Simpson’s Noah Claypole was a nasty piece of goods casting aspirations on Oliver’s mother which precipitates the debacle that follows and causes Oliver’s flight to London. 

Ben Davis’ Artful Dodger was a joy to watch, his acting ability improves year on year , and this part was well up to his capability. This role is very much defined by the interacting between him and Fagin which in this production was so well done. Geoff Covenrty was the definitive Fagin bringing his own personality to this difficult role, difficult because of how the role has been portrayed in the cast. Although technically an evil man, a miser, and seller of stolen goods Geoff played this role with a large amount of humour.

Georgia Parnell gave a very talented and in parts, sensitive performance as Nancy. She has a beautiful singing voice and sang ‘As long as he needs me’ with feeling and assuredness the role that can make you shudder is Bill Sykes. This was performed by Josh Cook with exceptional ability. His song ‘My name’ has the power to send shivers down the back and because of this the audience know he is bad through and through with no sign of redemption. Josh handled his role with professionalism. The smaller roles, Mr Brownlow and Mrs Bedwin and the Doctor were well played and I particularly enjoyed the harmonious singing of ‘Who will buy’ with the solo by Oliver. The six piece orchestra was excellent and not too loud for young voices.

Costumes by Irene Willcocks and Marilyn Grose were of the period and lighting by Alan Porter was good. A well produced and performed show, well done.