5th April 2019
Gateshead Musical Theatre Company
The Dryden Centre, Gateshead
Type of Production
Author: Foster Johnson
It is never easy to keep fresh and bring new impetus to a show that has become part of the fabric of musical theatre over many years. One such show is Oliver and one can argue that it gets so many airings as it attracts young people to participate and that in turn brings their own families in support of them. Cynical perhaps! However conversely it opens up the world of musical theatre to young people and gives them a vehicle to showcase their talents.
It was with some trepidation therefore when I visited Gateshead MTC ‘s version. I need not have worried however as I was put at ease immediately the action began and the evening flew by. In the talented hands of Director/Musical Director/Choreographer Lee Brannigan (yes all three!) the production and pace did not falter for a moment and every aspect had a fluidity about it To do so everyone needed to be tuned in and they were as scene changes and props segued seamlessly from one to another and Principal and Chorus entrances were crisp and precise. Well done to the Stage, Props, Lighting and Sound Crews.
Obviously this would come to nought if the Company could not deliver the product. Well they certainly did. The adult chorus of 14 were on their game and the their interpretation of the big Company numbers and support of the Principals in “Consider Yourself” “Oom-Pah-Pah” “Who will Buy” was a delight. The Children’s Chorus as the Workhouse Children and Fagin’s Gang were also in fine form and their singing and choreographed movement in “Food Glorious Food” “Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” and “I’d Do Anything” were a credit to them.
There are 17 Principal and Cameo roles in the show and each made a valued contribution to the production My congratulations go to all for without them there would have been no show. However I would like to single out some. Ted Gladstone as Oliver was the epitome of the role with a sweet singing voice and a fine command of the stage and understanding of the role. The audience took him to their hearts, especially when performing “Where is Love” Daniel Burlison continues to bloom as an actor and his interpretation of The Artful Dodger was first class with a complete mastery of his art for one so young. Nothing seems to faze him and he delivered a great version of “Consider Yourself” Ian Mordue was ideally cast as Fagin and his interpretation of the role both in terms of musical delivery and timing was first class. It was high up amongst the many I have witnessed. I was particularly impressed with how he drew the audience into his murky world with his version of “Reviewing the Situation”
The yardstick for Nancy is difficult to match and the iconic “As Long as He Needs Me” takes some doing to bring life to the character I was therefore very interested to see how Donna Graham in the role would handle it. Well from my perspective she did so exceptionally well bringing out the desperation and tormented soul that her life has become when torn between her duty and love of Bill Sikes. Stepping into the role of Sikes Scott Howe’s delivered a fine performance displaying the evil and dark soul of the villain of the piece that brought reality to the part.
As the cunning and conniving workhouse pair the aptly named Mr. Bumble and devious Widow Corney Keith Hewison and long serving stalwart Carol Bannerman delivered solid renditions of the roles as did Mick Stafford(Mr. Brownlow) and Carl Ferguson and Jane Gibson (Mr and Mrs Sowerberry) whilst Jess Gibson and Jude Waite were convincing as Bet and Noah Claypole respectively. It was also nice to see another long serving member Jean Saul who has given much to the Society in the role of Mrs.Bedwin.