Oliver! Presented by Cambridge Operatic Society in association with The Young Actors Company at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, December 1. Review by ANGELA SINGER.
PICK a pocket or two to see this show.
Here is a good a Fagin as ever you will meet, my dear. Scott Riley’s Reviewing the Situation, accompanied by a fine orchestra with Sean Rock on the violin, was a privilege to see and hear.
Riley’s Fagin is delicate and deft, natural and funny. His elderly Jewish gentleman is no caricature. He is a cunning old crook but recognisably human.
This is a fast-paced production with plenty of verve. The set and the scene changes are filmic. The play works from the first moment when the orphans bring on their own tables in a forlorn but well choreographed procession – and all of them, all the time, are in the moment. Only one note: in the opening number – which really is glorious – it would be better to have the solos sung by two or three children rather than one because their single voices are not strong enough to be heard.
Alex Hearne-Potton (the opening night’s Oliver) has a good strong voice and is well-cast and Joshua Bailey as The Artful Dodger is what the Victorians would have called “a natural”.
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Eileen Donnelly’s Nancy is a fine gal, and one you can believe in. Nancy’s whole life was played out in the show. There is real pride when she says: “My Bill”. She has captured the downtrodden, upbeat female who laughs at her own adversity.
Alan Hay is a terrifying Bill Sykes with a good booming voice, in song and in speech and Myles Bradley is a buzzing Bumble. Everyone is well-cast, with feisty comic performances from Mandy Jeffery as Widow Corney, Geoff Reed as Dr Grimwig, William Hale and Lucy Cheke as the Sowerberries (loved her screech), Amber Lickerish as Charlotte and Zebb Dempster as Noah Claypole.
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Karen Turner is a lovely Bet with a voice that made you want to ask for more and Anna Murgatroyd is a classy Mrs Bedwin.
Congratulations to director Leigh McDonald, choreographer Danielle Phillips and musical director Lucas Elkin for a show with zest and aplomb that is slick and fun, at times moving and throughout a joy to see.