|Date||26th November 2015|
|Society||Ponteland Repertory Society|
|Venue||Memorial Hall, Ponteland|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Deborah Barry|
Author: Ian Wells
That perennial favourite, ‘Oliver!’ was given outing by Ponteland Rep which was enjoyed by the large audience, too many to have been all mums and dads of the children involved, so proving the show’s popular appeal. Its appeal to a society is that it offers something for members of all ages, and this was certainly the case in this production where all roles were played by someone of appropriate age. We saw team ‘Oliver’, whose members gave it their all, and I am assured that those in team ‘Twist’ were just as lively and enthusiastic. All were members of the ‘Preppies’, the junior wing of the society, and it says much for the dedication of adult leaders that there are so many children involved and obviously enjoying their introduction to musical theatre.
Director Carole Davies overcame the restrictions of the small stage of the Memorial Hall by using various exits and entrances in the hall itself, as well as on stage, to move the large cast unobtrusively, and ‘mini’ sets downstage left and right for Widow Corney’s, the Sowerby’s and Mr. Brownlow’s interiors which were well presented and furnished. The main sets of Fagin’s Den and London Bridge had impressive backcloths, and everything was produced ‘in-house’ by a team led by members Barbara and Gerald Clayton..
The orphans (of both genders, and why not in these days of equality?) got the show off to a rousing start, and Brian Barry and Heather Thompson caught the humour of the encounter between Beadle Bumble and Widow Corney. Jonny Woollett was an athletic Fagin, leading a band of (very clean) ragamuffins, aided by an equally agile Dodger, as portrayed by Andrew Potter. Lucy Walton and Hannah Elliott played Nancy and Bet, leading ‘Oom-Pah-Pah’ with great style and relish, and Lucy’s ‘As Long As Needs Me’ was a real highlight, as was Jonny’s ‘Reviewing The Situation’. The brutish Bill Sykes (though sadly without his dog, Bullseye) was convincingly played by Andrew Vine in complete contrast to the sweet innocence of Cameron Davison’s Oliver. The minor roles were well handled and contributed greatly to the performance, as did the musical accompaniment of the quartet under the baton of Deborah Barry.