26th April 2012
Spennymoor Town Hall, Spennymoor?
Type of Production
Malcolm Cooper (assistant Director Richard Butler)?
Author: Gordon Richardson
This production got the society off to a cracking start in this, its centenary year. ‘Oliver!’ is a well-known show, and it is impossible not to ‘compare and contrast’ with other versions you have seen in the past. This version compared very favourably, and was tremendously enhanced by the ‘detail’ in the performances. These were not performers simply saying and singing their lines, but actors who had got ‘under their skin’ of their characters. It was not only main characters that shone but many small role players made the most of their part, such as Noah Claypole, Charlotte, Mrs Bedwin, Bet, Charley Bates, and Mr Brownlow – not forgetting the workhouse/Fagin’s gang children and adult chorus.
In the larger roles, Director Malcolm Cooper and Karen Butler, as Mr Bumble and Widow Corney, produced a very amusing rendition of ‘I Shall Scream’. Paul Rodgerson and Susan Raper gave a very sombre performances together as Mr & Mrs Sowerberry. In the title role of ‘Oliver’ Alex Sneath excelled with his sweet tuneful performance and fine acting throughout, and had some effective and dramatic pauses in his songs (for which I’m sure credit must be shared with MD Martyn Jones). Ethan Hurworth as ‘Dodger’ was the archetypal loveable rogue – a highlight being his ‘Consider Yourself’.
Fagin was played by Eric Hickson in an accomplished manner which allowed the audience to catch glimpses of his inherent evilness, his compassion, his frailty and his sense of self preservation – no more so than in the last verse of ‘Reviewing the Situation’ where the audience palpably empathised with him. Nancy was played by Helen Grainger who gave an outstanding performance as she too showed many facets to her character whist producing some great vocal performances. Finally Richard Butler, as Bill Sykes (sans ‘Bullseye’,) truly gave a virtuoso performance as the evil psychopathic thug.
Music under Martyn Jones was yet again well controlled, sound quality was excellent and scenery and costumes appropriate. This was a production well worthy of the full houses it received.