Tuesday, 18 October 2016

"Oliver" by Long Eaton Operatic Society
May Hall, Long Eaton.
I thought that this show would be good, but after the first song "Food Glorious Food" had been performed by the workhouse boys, I knew that I was wrong. The show was not good. The show was fantastic. It started that way and just got better and better.
You all know the story of "Oliver" so i won't give you the details of the story, I'll just get on with how fantastic this show was.
The set looked solid and was on multi levels, which gave the actors several entry and exit points, not limiting them to just left and right wings.
The lighting was colourful and really added to the colourful story as well as setting an air of mischief and danger when needed, creating just the perfect atmosphere. All thanks to Tom Olding for a wonderful lighting design and operation.
In the past there have been a few sound issues at May Hall with some of their shows. Tonight, I don't know what was done different but the sound was crystal clear. Thank you Andrew James for doing whatever you did. The sound mix between actor and orchestra was also perfect. You could hear every single word spoken and sang tonight.
The orchestra created a warm and rounded sound under the musical direction of Sam Griffiths. I son't normally pick out members of the orchestra, mainly because they are all so good, but I just adored the violin playing of Joy Gravestock, which was completely sublime.
Wonderful costumes for all,especially Fagin, thanks to Nottingham Community Wardrobe and LEOS themselves. Very colourful and true to the characters.
The choreography was magical, not least in the opening number and the rousing "Oom Pah Pah" which opened Act Two. A lot of hard work put in by choreographer Karen Woodhead.
Produced and directed by the award winning Siobhan Parker. Here's another big success under her belt.
I'd forgotten just what a big cast this show has, 50 to be precise but even when they were all on stage they didn't crowd each other out. A wonderful ensemble of boys; some taking to the stage for the first time and others seasoned board treaders. You know what, without reading the programme, you wouldn't know which were which as they were all so full of confidence and professionalism.
So to the main roles.....
This musical is full of double acts who work so well together and bounce off each other so well. Take Bumble and Widow Corney, played by Jack Draper and Claire Collishaw. Beneath the hard, bullying outer surface of Bumble lies an ebbing wave of bravado, especially when on the receiving end of the Widow. Great characterisation from both talented actors.
The same can be said of the funeral proprietors Mr & Mrs Sowerberry (Rob Byatt & Liz Woolley) a lovely little comedy act going on there.
The bullying Noah and Charlotte also made a good team, played by Jack Woolley and Tayla Evans.
Dominic Wood (Oliver) captured all of the vulnerability and innocence of the original Mark Lester and has a lovely emotive voice which got the hairs up on the back of my neck when he sang "Where Is Love".
Bailey West, who I last saw as Gavroche in "Les Miserables" at Derby Theatre brought back the cheek as The Artful Dodger in this one. He has a list of musical theatre roles already on his CV which stands him in good stead for becoming a brilliant young actor in the future.
Abigail Pidgeon was an absolute delight as Nancy, showing just a glimpse of the more wayward side of the character but mainly showing that unwavering love for her Bill, which ultimately led to Nancy's downfall. Abigail's version of "As Long As He Needs Me" was just stunning and heartfelt.
Katie Mac Donald played Nancy's friend, Bet. Another really fun and playful role.
John Paxton (Bill Sikes) was a real nasty piece of work, and I imagine was an absolute joy for John to play. He got as many "boos" as he did rounds of applause at the end. Obviously a testament to his acting skills there.
A few nice cameo roles in Mrs Bedwin and Dr Grimwig, played by Angela Walters and Martin Mould and Oliver's recently discovered Grandfather, Mr Brownlow, played by Lindsay Mould.
I'm not saying that I've saved the best for last as that would be unfair on the other actors but Lewis Haycock, you were amazing as Fagin. As a young actor, you made me believe that you were Fagin. You encompassed everything that Fagin should be. the "father figure" to the boys, the protector, the wide-boy as well as the vulnerable side of the man, worried of what would become of him in his old age. A class performance and a wonderful vocal performance as well. Everything about this character was bob on. Russ Abbot, Rowan Atkinson watch out there's another brilliant Fagin on your tails by the name of Lewis Haycock. This , I think has to be the best that I've seen Lewis perform, and I've seen him in several shows in the past few years.
"Oliver" is the show to see this week and is at May Hall, Long Eaton until Saturday 22 October 2016. Consider Yourself lucky to see this group because if you miss it, That's Your Funeral as it may not Be Back Soon.

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