15th October 2019
Gatehouse Theatre Stafford
Type of Production
Author: Alan Bruce
This new revised West End version gives a more focused performance for the chorus. The story gives ample opportunities for the Youth wing of Stafford Musical Theatre to flesh out the cast in this classic rags to riches Dickensian story.
The show Directed and Choreographed by Hannah Morris brought the well known musical favourite to the stage at the Gatehouse Theatre Stafford. Due to the age of many of the cast, the children's chorus have been split into two parts giving a total cast in the region of ninety, which may have led to some trepidation on opening night from some of the younger performers. To rehearse so many cast members must have been quite a logistical nightmare for the production team.
The well lit simple set augmented with subtle props and furniture created the feel of the era without distracting from it. Good sound from the opening, a few minor mic cue issues, then again given the sheer number of performers and factoring it being opening night.
Musical Director Laura Foxcroft again taking the baton giving the listener a level of confidence and expectation in the bands performance, the sound of which was excellent. The new orchestration, for me, particularly Fagin's 'Reviewing The Situation', misses the iconic solo violin. Much as I love Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, I feel in this instance the clarinet doesn't quite send the shivers up the spine of the original arrangement, just my personal preference at the end of the day.
Compliments to Rob Mincher on his portrayal of Fagin, a very good measured performance.
Oliver, Jamie Gardner at only ten years old gave a good account of himself, movement in particular was precise and vocally confident, reacting and working well with his fellow Team Nancy group member Charlie Tiernan as The Artful Dodger, obviously loving his role, showing a good all round range.
Katie Phizacklea as Nancy brought a seasoned performers presence to the stage, her interplay with her friend Bet, played mischievously sweetly by Megan McGinley; Fagin and the ever threatening loathsome love of her life Bill Sikes, Jono Down relayed the story of manipulation and fear, so much an ever present of the era to a 'Tee'.
Craig Chesters as Mr Bumble suitably parochial and self serving, as to Mandy Gauge, as his love interest Widow Corney, gelled well together.
Mr and Mrs Sowerberry, Mark Phizacklea and Tracey Brough-Chester respectively gave a great impression of the undertaking trade in the Victorian era, well cast.
The Team Nancy Noah Claypole, Jack Foster opposite Alex Lewis as Charlotte worked well together.
David Phizacklea as Mr Brownlow was compassionate and caring, seeing a familiarity in young Oliver Twist which came across very well, especially when dealing with Mrs Bedwin, Jo Sedgley-Chiles; and Mat Giles, Dr Grimwig
A good family show, Lionel Bart's Oliver is packed full of well-known and well loved songs, always a joy to see.