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Oliver



Reviews

Oliver, Waterloo and Crosby Theatre Company, 21st June 2013

The Starry Nights Theatre Litherland High School

Director Pamela Foy, Musical Director Charles Moss, Choreographer Claudia Molyneux

 

Oliver! Is a British musical, with music and lyrics by Lionel Bart  based upon the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens first published in serial form in 1838. It premièred in the West End in 1960, enjoying a long run followed by a successful Broadway production in 1963 and further tours and revivals. It was made into a very successful musical film in 1968 winning several Oscars including best film. Major London revivals played from 1994–98 and again from 2008–11.

Waterloo and Crosby found putting on this show (using the Chairmen’s words) an uphill struggle as when they went into rehearsal they did not have a venue for this production or knew if their licence would be valid for their original preferred dates. Fortunately they fell on their feet with The Starry Nights Theatre at Litherland High School

In this lively energetic production we were treated to some very good performances. Euan Parkes as Oliver gave a lovely performance of the sensitive little boy who just wanted to be loved. Lucas Frost as The Artful Dodger was memorable as the cheeky know it all Dodger. There was a very good performance from Jamie Lester as Fagin who performed with a very severe throat infection. Well done to Jamie, even with this problem his dialog was clear and could be heard, I liked the way he seemed to glide around the stage when he walked. Alexandra Appleton gave us a fun loving flighty Nancy, her love for Bill was obvious even though he was a danger to her and Leo Appleton was suitably dark and menacing as Bill Sykes.  Patrick Mercer as Mr Bumble and Maureen Hogan as Widow Corney were believable in their portrayals of the Beadle and the Matron of the Workhouse. Linda Hansen was very entertaining as Mrs Sowerberry the undertakers wife and Danny Walsh was suitably melancholy and grim as Mr Sowerberry . Noah Claypole and Charlotte Sowerbberry were well played by Les Longley and Emerald Hickey and Roy Hartley as Dr Grimwig gave us a lovely comedic episode. Joan McGuigan- Ashcroft was very loving in her portrayal of Mrs Bedwin and Jon Hilton who took over the part of Mr Brownlow at short notice was very secure in his role and played his character with dignity. Laura Boylan as Bet (Nancy’s friend), Pat Kelly as old Sally and Alex Burke as Charles Bates all gave nice characterisations The chorus gave a reliable performance and looked as if they were enjoying themselves, they also provided us with a number of nice characterisations during the show. Well done to the children’s chorus of workhouse boys and Fagin’s gang who were very enthusiastic and also appeared to enjoying themselves immensely.

The orchestra conducted by Musical Director Charles Moss was placed at the side of the stage area which meant there could have been a possibility that the orchestra may overshadow the performers.  Although this was a slight problem on a few occasions the orchestra was generally very good, well balanced and supportive of the performers. The Choreography by Claudia Molyneux was more than appropriate for this musical and was undertaken with enthusiasm by the cast.

As the venue was a studio theatre the stage area was on the flat, it had a very effective open set which meant all scene changes were undertaken in full view of the audience which could have interfered with the smooth running of the show. However the cast and crew appeared to cope well with this new set up although some scene changes were a little slow, well done to the stage crew, properties and lighting. There were a few problems with the lapel microphones; they were somewhat unreliable as they picked up interference from clothing and movement. Well done to the sound engineers for coping with this problem. Costumes were generally well put together and they appeared to fit in well with the period setting of the show, with good attention to detail.

Congratulations to the Artistic Director Pamela Foy for a very enjoyable production and well done to all involved including front of house staff.

Thank you for inviting me I really enjoyed my visit.

Patricia Connor

NODA District 6

 

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Oliver!, Waterloo & Crosby Theatre Company, Starry Nights Theatre

Review by Champion Arts Editor Ron Ellis

A BIG show with a superb cast at the company’s impressive new venue in Litherland High School.

Ten year olds Thomas Corcoran, as Oliver Twist, and Brian Comer, as The Artful Dodger, are surely stars of the future. Their singing and acting showed great confidence and showmanship for ones so young and one wonders how much more talent there is among the twenty or so other youngsters, singing gustily in numbers like Food Glorious Food and I’d do anything, as Fagin’s Gang and the Workhouse Boys

Jamie Lester’s brilliant portrayal of Fagin was the best I have since Ron Moody, the definitive Fagin, made his name in the role in Lionel Bart’s original 1960 West End production.

Almost unrecognisable beneath the beard and whiskers, Leo Appleton dominated the stage with a powerful performance as Bill Sykes. The beating to death of his ‘moll’, Nancy, brought gasps from the packed audience, not least because Nancy (who gave a poignant rendition of As Long As He Needs Me) was played by his real-life wife, Alexandra Appleton. Possibly they were hoping they didn’t rehearse too vigorously at home!

There was nice comedy by-play between Patrick Mercer, as Mr. Bumble, the Beadle, and Maureen Hogan, as the Widow Corney while John Hilton cut a majestic figure as Mr. Brownlow, a role he has played in several previous productions.

Linda Hansen, whom I fondly recall as a robot belting out a great version of Shake Rattle & Roll in the company’s Journey to a Forbidden Planet, was transformed here into a drab but fierce harridan as Mrs. Sowerby, the wife of the undertaker (Danny Walsh).

M. D., Charles Moss, led an enthusiastic 14-piece orchestra, unusually situated alongside the action which made them much more part of the show than if they were sunk inside an orchestra pit.

Choreography was by Claudia Molyneux and the artistic direction was in the capable hands of Pamela Foy.

One of their best productions from this talented society.

Star Rating: 8 out of 10 A show to remember.

 

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Review: Oliver! – Waterloo and Crosby Theatre Company

Starry Nights Theatre, Litherland High School – 19 to 23 June 2013

Reviewed on Sunday 23 June, Jenny Robson, Lancashire Evening Post

I read Oliver Twist as a child and have seen the famous 1968 film but, until Sunday, I had only ever seen one live stage performance of Oliver!  And this production left it standing!

The impressive set under the arches in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral transformed easily for the numerous scenes and there were some lovely costumes.

Musical Director, Charles Moss, led the impressive 15-piece orchestra through Lionel Bart’s wonderful music and Claudia Molyneux had provided some lively, inventive choreography.

Young Thomas Corcoran gave a polished performance and was perfect as Oliver.  When he sang Where is Love? I’m sure everyone in the audience wanted to give him a hug. 

Colour entered the Paddington Green scene in more ways than one with the arrival of the Artful Dodger played by young, assured cheeky chappie Brian Comer. 

Jamie Lester’s performance as Fagin was nothing short of astonishing!  He could have been on wheels as he glided effortlessly around the stage.  Fantastic! 

I hadn’t seen Leo Appleton play a baddie before.  He presented a gripping portrayal of Bill Sykes as he terrorised poor Nancy (played by real-life wife Alexandra) who loved him unconditionally despite his cruelty.  Alex sang As Long As He Needs Me exquisitely - poignant at the start and rising to a wonderful crescendo.

The delightful cast threw themselves into their roles.  Not only did they all give powerful performances but the fun they were having transferred to the audience who loved every minute.  They are fortunate to have Pamela Foy as their Artistic Director.  She weaves her magic over every show she’s involved with.

I’m not ashamed to say that tears flowed during the emotional finale - especially when Oliver and the Artful Dodger took their bows.  What little stars!

 Wow!


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