2015 – Oliver

A superb show – Northumberland Gazette – March 2015.

This production of Oliver! The Musical left me asking for more. It was a superb show that packs a punch with an enormous and fantastic chorus line.

Before you read on, I urge you to grab what tickets are left for this whopper of a show. It is one of the company’s most ambitious productions to date.

With a cast of 49 and a behind-the-scenes group of about the same, this production is a massive community effort and deserves our support. I know there is a tendency to think that because we’re the local paper we must give a nice review, but if pictures speak a thousand words, there are no more words to say how great this production is.

Tonight’s show was an absolute delight to watch and the only criticism was the opening of the show which was totally different to any other traditional musical and had no definitive opening number which seemed to confuse the audience, although it seemed was artistically-superior as the show isn’t the happiest of musicals.

Apart from that, the set is stunning, the costumes are authentic and larger-than-life and Tim Swinton and Andy Hunt have created some beautifully haunting pieces of lighting design. As I took in this musical extravaganza, it was no surprise that director Lynne Lambert was just sitting back and letting her production reveal itself as a superb night out.

The story of Oliver is one that doesn’t need much explaining. You have one orphan boy who is destined for more than just the workhouse. He escapes life as an undertaker’s apprentice and heads to the misty city of London. Oliver (Aiden Stuart) quickly mixes with the wrong crowd and turns to a life of pick-pocketing under the training of The Artful Dodger (Isaac Mills) and the ruthless Fagin (David Wilson). In the mix of all this clamour is a struggling relationship between Bill Sykes (Phil Gregory) and Nancy (Leonie Airlie).

On stage, you have fantastic performances from children under the age of 10, right up to people past retirement age and this is why the show is such a triumph. The chorus line hold the show together and the children are unbelievably talented, the Duchess’s High School’s drama department will be begging for them in future years.

Performances by Aiden Stuart and Isaac Mills are ones that are truly worth praise. Young Aiden’s performance tugs at your heart strings while Isaac is at home in his mischievous role. Also to watch out for are David Wilson and Phil Gregory who give such well-thought out performances and are both truly menacing in such different ways.

But the performance that will steal your hearts is Stage Musical Society newbie Leonie Airlie. Her performance is stunning, and I really mean it. Every line is delivered with conviction and authority. Her singing voice will move you to tears and you can tell she completely understands her role as a young girl unlucky in love. Tonight Leonie was a true leading lady, she gave a breathtaking performance and I hope she comes back for more in future productions.

So consider yourself lucky you have such a talented amateur group and I’d do anything to see it again!

Michael Pearson

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