Oliver!

Date 19th April 2017
Society Bath Light Operatic Group
Venue Roper Theatre, Hayesfield School, Bath
Type of Production Musical
Director Tristan Carter with Helen Feierabend
Musical Director Matthew Finch
Choreographer Annette Wiltshire

Report

Author: Dee Way

This is a show that has some wonderfully big character parts that need to contrast and yet work together.  The differences between the rich and the poor life-styles of the story’s characters need highlighting throughout – this was very well carried out in this production.

There was obviously a lot of careful planning for the production, with the stage design working really well.  The steps down stage right added a height dimension to the stage – and the positioning of the small orchestra on the upper platform made good use of the space created.  The ‘shop’ door on the stage was good, but did allow light and stage crew to be seen occasionally.  Perhaps obscured glazing or dirty glass might have helped here.

The direction by Tristan Carter assisted by Helen Feierabend was well thought through and planned to leave few pauses in the story.  This worked really well. The settings for the various scenes were created with good imagination and use of boxes, chairs and coffins.  I liked the contrast between the famous opening poorhouse scene and the luxurious dinner party seen concurrently down stage right.

The scenery was very good, and worked well for the cast.  Although some of the table legs were clearly metal, the wooden chairs and table for the dinner party were suitably mixed and period.  The coffin scene was both horrifying and enjoyable, with the sound of Oliver shouting from inside, while Fagan’s hideout was nicely created with a washing line, chair, boxes and sacks.  The Brownlow’s scenes were nicely sumptuous, by contrast, while the pub scene opening Act 2 was riotous and lively.

The music, led by Matthew Finch, was excellent, with just three musicians creating a world of sound.  The violin solo for Fagan’s song was delicious!  The singing throughout was good, with clear words and good tone.  The sound was well balanced, clear and in no way overbearing.

The lighting was very effective and well set up to create atmospheres and focus areas.  The changes in lighting were subtle and on cue.  The costumes were very well done, especially with Nancy’s red dress emphasising her presence on stage, the smart clothes of the wealthy contrasting strongly with the dirty rags of the poor.  Some of the urchins could have had dirtier faces!

The choreography was astounding, especially for the big show stoppers, with so many of the cast onstage.  The timing of the moves and the creative patterns used were inventive.  The use of the stage space throughout was obviously very well rehearsed.