Oliver!

Date 15th November 2013
Society South Moor Musical Theatre Group
Venue Civic Theatre, Stanley
Type of Production Musical
Director Graham West
Musical Director Graham West

Report

Author: Michelle Coulson

Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!”, based on the classic Dickensian tale of Oliver Twist, is now over 50 years old but remains a firm favourite with audiences. From the first entrance and “Food Glorious Food” the audience knew they were going to be in for an enthusiastic and committed performance from the entire company.
Good use was made of the two level set, stage extension areas and the lighting plot to focus on areas of action and create mood. The orchestra were very good and never overpowered the cast even in the softer numbers; this was also a credit to the excellent sound production.

All of the cast embraced their characters and made the most of every opportunity given to them to shine, and a special mention must be made of  the animal actors - Fagin’s owl and Bullseye (Pixie) who added to the interest of the piece and behaved impeccably.

The show got off to a solid start in the experienced hands of Valerie Barnes as “Widow Corney” and Michael Green as “Mr Bumble”, their scenes were very well performed and sung.  The cold but hilarious characters in the form of the “Sowerberrys” were given plenty of life by John Priestley (Mr Sowerberry) ,Rexine Perry (Mrs Sowerberry ), Nieve Lennox (Charlotte) and Jake Mossom (Noah Claypole); the hen pecked Mr Sowerberry had every right to look so pale and worn down!  The Brownlow house hold were also well represented (Bill Wilson, Gill Wilde, Roderick Stuart) and gave strong supporting performances as did Ellie Taylor as “Bet”.

Aaron Taylor, as “Oliver”, and Hayden James Taylor, as “Dodger” (on the night I attended), worked well together, and provided the complete contrast required of the two characters.  Aaron gave us the quiet, naïve Oliver, whist Hayden was the cute, charming and streetwise Dodger.  It was good to see two boys of a similar age, the way Dickens described them, and both won the hearts of the audience.  I am assured that Lennox Henderson and Luke Henderson were equally good.

Lindsay Kellegher, as “Nancy”, gave us a fiery yet subservient Nancy who showed her inner strength, especially in her rendition of “As Long As He Needs Me”, and her scenes with Andrew Howe, as the story’s dark thread “Bill Sykes”, were particularly good. This was a very different role for Andrew, and one he clearly enjoyed. The coveted role of “Fagin” was in the safe hands of Ian Mordue who gave this dishonest, sharp-edged and yet somehow likeable character believability.  I am sure the entire company would agree that the undoubted stars of the show were the children who obviously enjoyed every moment they were on the stage, and performed every number with energy, many of them never having performed before.

Well done South Moor on your 80th anniversary production, may you have many more!