15th April – 18th April 2015 at The Gracie Fields Theatre. Reviewed by Sharon Drummond National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA)
The open set had a huge seven foot book of Oliver Twist in the middle of the stage in front of benches which left the stage shortly after opening.
The opening number was “Food Glorious Food” where we see the children’s chorus for the first time. They worked well with the choreography throughout the show and looked like they were having fun.
The set although huge was very effective and the crew dressed as characters worked well to change scenes. The props and costumes worked well and were in keeping with the time.
Lighting and sound were effective but some of the balance on sound wasn’t quite as sharp as it could be probably down to the size of the auditorium and the band being behind the scenery in the choir stalls.
I cannot mention all the principals but Samuel Torpey who played Oliver was exceptional. He was adorable with a gorgeous singing voice (albeit loosing his voice a little on the night I was in). His diction and posh London accent were crystal clear and he fitted the role beautifully. And all this at 8 years of age! Amazing performance.
Joao Faulkner as the Artful Dodger worked well alongside Samuel and was never upstaged by the adult cast. His voice is breaking and as often happens between casting and putting the show on a few of the notes have to be adjusted to take account of that. In spite of that he worked hard on the dancing and acting too.
Jon Gardner was an amazing Fagin. He had the right mix of comedy and pathos to command the stage every time he was on it. With stunning vocals and brilliant acting he was mesmerising to watch.
Nancy was played beautifully by Sarah Thewlis with lovely vocals and believable acting opposite the extremely threatening and scary Michael Mills as Bill Sykes. This was Michael’s first role for 10 years and based on what I saw I hope he’s not going to leave it another 10.
The two couple roles of Mr Bumble and Widow Corney and Mr & Mrs Sowerberry were very much played for laughs and the audience seemed to enjoy this. I liked the scenes in the funeral parlour and enjoyed the portrayal of Mr Sowerberry as a drinker. The young actors in this scene (Jack Rawston as Noah and Emily Fitton as Charlotte) performed well alongside the experienced skills of Kathryn Quimby as Mrs Sowerberry.
The harmonies in the finale were gorgeous and ended the evening in a very enjoyable style. Well done to the production team on creating a different sort of Oliver! to those I have seen in the past.