|Date||28th June 2018|
|Society||Easy Street Theatre Co|
|Venue||The Montgomery Theatre, Sheffield|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Gareth Lloyd|
Author: Jo Sykes
This wonderful production of Oliver! was directed by Sallianne Foster-Major together with her experienced Production Team and the fabulous young people of Easy Street Theatre Company who presented a great evening’s entertainment. Musical Director, Gareth Lloyd, had clearly encouraged the young people to excel in their performances of the many musical numbers in the show and they were well supported by a live six piece band. Choreographer, Amanda Tyas had designed great routines for the production numbers which suited the mix of ages and abilities on stage.
There was excellent characterisation and empathetic representation by everyone on stage which was a reflection of the well considered casting. Dickens’ presents the performer with some wonderful characters and these young people worked hard to portray them. Taking the title role was Sam Radley on the night I watched (the role being shared with Benjamin Rossiter). Sam captured the innocence of Oliver and engaged well with all the other characters, particularly in The Thieves Kitchen scenes. Harry Foster-Major gave a strong performance as Mr Bumble – excellent singing and great work with Katie Staniforth, as Widow Corney. Jacob Broughton-Glerup and Hannah Pritchard were perfectly cast in the roles of Mr and Mrs Sowerberry which they played to great comedic effect.
The role of Artful Dodger was taken by Daniel Rossiter and Ben Storey (I saw Daniel’s portrayal). Dodger introduces Oliver to the criminal underworld, and Daniel gave a confident and entertaining performance. Nancy was beautifully played by Katherine Rice – whose gritty portrayal with stunning vocals illustrates that this talented young women has a great future ahead of her. She was well supported by Daisy Peacock in the role of Bet. Rhys Quinn was disturbingly menacing as Bill Sikes giving a frighteningly realistic performance. The audience were left in no doubt what would happen to us if we dared to utter his name. I also felt that the murder of Nancy was very sensitively directed. Ed Maxted gave a strong performance as Mr Brownlow and Rosa Bolton did well in the role of Mrs Bedwin with a lovely reprise of ‘Where is Love?’ Completing this cast were Joe Wicox as Charlie Bates, Josiah Holden as Dr Grimwig, Poppy Sefton as Charlotte, Benjamin Chadwick as Noah Claypole and Emily Crisp as Old Sally – all of whom gave great performances – showing the strength of talent in this group of young people.
Of course I haven’t yet mentioned the Old Goat himself, Fagin, and Ethan Carley, who at only 19 years of age, perfectly captured everything the audience expects to see in this role. His characterisation demonstrated an understanding way beyond his years - finding the energy and mischief in this role which is essential to bringing the character to life. An excellent portrayal – well done.
Everyone on stage demonstrated real enthusiasm for this production and the ensemble performed some super numbers. I also enjoyed the vocal arrangements, in particular ‘That’s Your Funeral’ and ‘I Shall Scream’ were very well done. The Workhouse Children and Fagin’s Gang used the whole auditorium for their entrances and exit, demonstrating great confidence in using the theatre space.
The costumes were very effective. The set was excellently designed and expertly moved by the stage crew and there was effective use of lighting to give the required atmosphere.
It is evident from everything we see on stage that there is much work undertaken with these performers as their depth of understanding of stage craft is wonderful to see in such a young group. Their movement around stage, their interaction with each other, their use of props and scenery and the way they handle any challenges is testament to the hard work that the production team put into supporting these young people and helping them to develop as performers.
Congratulations to everyone involved – a really entertaining production.