National Operatic & Dramatic Association
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10th November 2017


Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust


Floral Pavilion New brighton

Type of Production



Elsie Kelly

Musical Director

Tricia Gaskell


Sarah Walker / Elsie Kelly


Author: Budge Grounsell


Having seen “Oliver” very many times we might be forgiven for thinking here we go again; not so particularly when one witnesses a production on this scale. The society is indeed fortunate in having a production team who always seem to bring out the best in everyone associated with the show. Elsie Kelly the Director rarely misses a trick; endowing all her shows with the skill that only be evinced by experience and directorial talent. As Musical Director Elizabeth Gaskell would be a boon to any Society and the music and singing under her auspices are always a delight, whilst Sarah Walker adds her own special brand of choreography as the third member of the main team. Colette Clare (Ballet Mistress) and Rose McPherson “Chorus Mistress” are two additional cogs that come together to provide us with such excellent entertainment.

The Principals as a whole were in good voice and character. Cole Boon as the eponymous Oliver sang beautifully and came over strongly as the boy who fits with this rags to riches story. His encounter with the talented and artful, Jack the lad, Dodger(Brian Comer) bring us to Fagin: Tony Prince made this character his own, funny, sly, all the attributes you would find in such a person; and good singing to boot. Jennifer Swanepoel (Nancy),what a fine singer and actress this lady is; a very fine showing . One might question her taste in men but Wesley Warburton as Bill Sykes was a force to be reckoned with. Running alongside these were of course Fagin’s boys. They were as good as any I have seen and their acrobatic dancing and singing splendid. What was notable was their discipline on stage and small but important actions and reactions reinforcing the main story.

Added to the main principals were some fine performances from the other characters vital to the overall story; Jonathan Francis was Mr Bumble to a “T” ably supported by Rebecca Nielson evolving from the simpering Widow Corny to the harridan Mrs Bumble. Frank Nance effective as always as Mr Brownlow. Emilia Lodge giving us an adult portayal as Nancy’s friend Bet,all the more as she is only 14 years old, quite amazing. John Viagus as the funerial Mr Sowerby and Gina Davis proving that as a character actor she can hold her own with anyone. Bruce as Bullseye takes the dog biscuit without doubt. Although I have not given all their names all the rest of the supporting players did very well and I particularly like “Who will buy” which was well staged and sung.

Chorus and Dancers, who provide the backbone of the cast aquitted themselves nobly and Ruby Hatton and Clara Meyer the two young girls will hopefully use this appearance as a stepping stone to greater things in the future.

Stage Crew, Props,Wardrobe,Sound, Lighting and Makeup all proved their value to the production.

Very well done to you all. Budge