Thursday, 9 July 2015

"Oliver" by Erewash Musical Society Youth Group
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton

Everyone loves "Oliver", the musical by Lionel Bart, and that showed from the rapturous show of appreciation throughout, and at the end of the show at the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton.

Several local theatre stalwarts joined with many newcomers to the stage to present an energetic and enthusiastic version of the musical that made musical stars of Harry Secombe, Ron Moody, Jack Wild and Mark Lester.

It's the story of the orphan boy Oliver who is sold to work at a funeral parlour after daring to ask for "more" food, glorious food at the workhouse ran by the bullying Mr Bumble. He falls in with a bad crowd of pick pockets, ran by Fagin, and mentored by Jack, aka The Artful Dodger.

The lead role was played tentatively by Joe Langley, just the way Lester played it in the film, and it was quite touching when he delivered songs like "Where Is Love", his voice cracking in all the right bits.

Tom Judson (Dodger) is a newcomer to me but was just right for the part. Cheeky confident, cocky, all the usual adjectives were there in abundance and a really cock sure vocal delivery of "I'd Do Anything". His vocals were constantly good.

Fagin was played by Dylan Singfield, and as far as I can remember another new name to me. While there were moments when the accent strayed slightly, Dylan pulled this role off well. Let's face it when you're being compared to Moody, Robert Lindsay and Bradley Walsh, among many brilliant actors who've taken on the role, you're up against it, but for his age, he did a fine job.

I loved Lewis Haycock as Bill Sykes. he was bullying, overbearing, frightening and managed to get the audience really hating his character, especially when he continuously abused Nancy (Katie Lawson), by tossing her to the floor on several occasions.

Katie, on the other hand, really had the audience eating out of her hand with her lovely and emotional renditions of "As Long As He Needs Me".

For me, the highlights, or should I say one of many, were Mr Bumble and Widow Corney with their comic scenes. Hayden Fletcher, who gets better (and taller), every time I see him and his voice, as I've said in past reviews gets ever the more stronger. He has a natural flair for comedy and at times reminiscent of the old "Carry On" films in his vignettes.

And to be a successful comedy pairing, you have to have a foil, and Ellie Simmonds was Hayden's foil, nay partner in comedic crime. their wonderful working of "I Shall Scream" was just heaven.

A great ensemble who created a wonderful sound in songs like "Food Glorious Food" and the joyous "Oom Pah Pah" and the choreography was spot on, especially with having such a large cast on a small(ish) stage. A great piece of work by Carol Lawson.

The eight piece orchestra never sounded sweeter and this time round under the musical direction of the ridiculously talented Mitch 'Gambon' Gamble. I must mention the beautiful violin work of Karen Eveson, especially in the song "Reviewing The Situation".

A wonderful multi functioning set created space for the dance and choreographed scenes folded and unfolded into the several scenes for the musical with ease and didn't distract from the action. well stage managed by Mark Robbins.

I have a feeling that you'll be very lucky to get tickets for the shows up to Saturday night when the show closes, because Thursday was sold out to the max and I have it on good authority that Friday, Saturday afternoon and evening are the same way. And I can see why!

It is brilliant to see such support for local amateur theatre and Long Eaton has a reputation for getting behind their local theatre and supporting such wonderful shows such as this, and I class myself very lucky to also be able to experience this level of talent.

"Oliver" is being performed at the Duchess Theatre at Long Eaton until Saturday 11 July 2015

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