Chelmsford Young Gen Oliver!
Director – Sallie Warrington
Musical Director – Bryan Cass
Performed at The Civic Theatre, Chelmsford on Wednesday 9th November 2016 at 7.30pm.
Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!” is a much loved musical, and Chelmsford’s Young Gen presented it wonderfully, under the colourful direction of Sallie Warrington and musical direction of Bryan Cass.
From the opening of the curtain, where we first lay eyes on the impressive set and the workhouse children, up to the closing notes, Young Gen proved what a talented bunch they are.
Oliver was played by Tommy Edwards on the night I saw, and he looked like an Oliver. He sang well and his lines were all clear. Mr Bumble played by Edward Bonney is not always an easy role to deliver, but his singing voice was mature and confident; and with Amy Hollingsworth as Widow Corney they kept ‘I shall scream’ engaging and believable.
Mr Sowerberry was a fantastic character, with great physicality and style. Paul French played the hen-pecked funeral director, and Lois Chapman played the bossy Mrs Sowerberry. I really enjoyed ‘That’s your funeral’.
Next we met Dodger on the streets of London, and we were captivated by an energetic ‘Consider Yourself’. Led by Charlie Toland, he confidently portrayed the cheeky chap that is the Artful Dodger, taking Oliver under his wing. Jack Toland as Fagin was brilliant. He also had great physicality which helped the audience to understand what kind of person Fagin was, with a consistent accent and a strong singing voice. Jack carefully mixed the humour with sincerity, and was able to interact well with the gang. Great support from all of the ensemble in all the group scenes, particularly in Fagin’s den. Then we met Nancy, played by Hope Davies. Hope clearly has a powerful voice and this was utilised in the very active songs, complimented by the more timid Bet played by Izzy Churches.
Mr Brownlow and Mrs Bedwin played by Harry Gardner and Maria Caulfield were suitably elegant and classy in comparison to the lower classes we saw in ‘Oom Pah-Pah’, the song’s joviality interrupted by the arrival of Bill Sykes. Matthew Barnes gave a confident performance as Bill; he gave us a good variety of volume and aggression in his voice.
The lighting was really effective. I particularly liked the lighting on Fagin when he was sat on his chair looking at all his treasures. The sound was generally good, sometimes the voices were a little too loud though which meant that they weren’t always balanced with each other. The band sounded great throughout.
Overall this was a great achievement for the whole company. Congratulations to the cast, crew and creatives.
Reviewed by Alexandra Berriman NODA Rep D8 & Youth Adviser