|Oliver||Ben Canning & Kyle Iles|
|Mr Bumble||Stuart Dark|
|Widow Corney||Alison Canning|
|Bill Sykes||Martin Whiteley|
|Mr Sowerberry||Ray Dance|
|Mrs Sowerberry||Amy Grimshaw|
|Mr Brownlow||Mike Chivers|
|Mrs Bedwin||Judith Sharp|
|Dr Grimwig||Chris Coleman|
|Charlotte||Jenny Harber (Tamara Lee - Tues 21st)|
|Noah Claypole||Tom Fisher|
|Old Sally||Carol Jeffcutt|
|"Who Will Buy" Sellers||Clare Walsh, Carrie Barras, Katie Langan, Josie Malone, Effie Carter, Georgina Squires, Carol Jeffcutt, Courtenay Merchant, Mark Newton|
This ever-popular show had drawn large audiences all week and the Saturday was no exception. The set from UK Productions was very adaptable and allowed the story to progress swiftly and was well used throughout. There was a raised area across the back with staircases leading to it, which enabled action to take place above while scene changes were happening on stage. There were doors on the lower level between the stairs, which gave the opportunity for various entrances and bringing on furniture. The scene changes were competent and quick. To accommodate the large cast the orchestra were completely under the stage so the only visual contact between cast and MD was through monitors. This had the potential to create huge problems but there were only a few places when they were not synchronised. The lighting had been well designed helping create the vastness of the workhouse dining room, the dim seediness of Fagin's liar, the wholesome cleanliness of Mr Brownlow's House and the intimacy of Widow Corney's Parlour. The sound effects were well cued and the sound balance was good always-sounding natural. The costumes fitted well and combined with makeup helped create the individual characters especially Fagin; although Nancy had a nice costume it and she were much to clean and tidy not quite matching the dinginess which had been created by the sets and lighting
Instead of 'settling in' music a thunderstorm was rumbling in the background as the audience took their seats, which created a certain amount of tension for the opening of the show. Then the almost 60 'orphans', made an impressive entrance through the auditorium reminiscent of people entering the Royal Albert Hall for the Festival of Remembrance. Food Glorious Food almost raised the roof and got the show off to a good start; the thing that really impressed me was that it was not just a well rehearsed children's chorus, but each orphan had a wonderfully expressive face showing that they were really dreaming of the delights they were singing about. They were always extremely well disciplined, always in the right place responding appropriately to the action at all times, always working together as a company and never drawing undue attention to themselves, as sometimes happens with young people. They worked well throughout bringing their youthful vitality to all the scenes they were in.
The cast brought the story to life giving some excellent portrayals. There were two boys sharing the role of Oliver and the one I saw, displayed a good understanding of the character, showing vulnerability and spirit in equal parts when required, and sang his way through confidently. Charlie Lock as The Artful Dodger was a self assured 'man about town', thinking himself older than his years and Fagin's right hand man, the recruitment of Oliver to the gang was well done. Jill Carter gave a powerful performance as Nancy, expressing the divided loyalties she feels between her love for Sykes and protecting Oliver. She sang 'As Long As He Needs Me' with true passion. Mr Bumble and Widow Corney worked well together with an amusing rendition of 'l Shall Scream'. I usually enjoy the sequence with Sowerberry's in the Funeral Parlour, and this was no exception, it has its darker side but the humour and hysteria were shown to perfection. I felt Bill Sykes could have captured the menace of the character a little more. Although you know what a terrible character Fagin was, encouraging young children into a life of crime, James Canning's portrayal made you feel sympathy for the man, especially during his rendition of 'Reviewing The Situation
Choreographer, Gemma Short, had devised lively and energetic dance numbers which the cast obviously enjoyed performing. Musical Director, Malcolm Webb overcame the challenges presented by this production keeping musicians and voices mostly together, the music never overpowering voices, especially in the numbers with the young people. Director Russell Langdown had worked well with his cast especially the large number of young people. Bill Sykes brutal attack on Nancy was very convincing but where she 'died' was in view of the audience and seemed rather in the way; people had to pass her body and not react at the horror of the situation until later, so it lost some of the impact. Having said that there were many excellent moments such as when time was frozen after Mr Brownlow realises he has been robbed, and the subsequent chase; the beginning of Act 2 was lively and raucous creating the atmosphere of the public house; the tenderness of Mrs Bedwin; and the total support given to the production by the whole company, keeping up the pace and energy throughout. The night I was there the audience really appreciated the show. Well done everyone.
Regional Representative. District 15.
National Operatic and Dramatic Association
1 5 The Metro Centre, Peterborough PE2 7UH
Tel 01733 374 790 Fax 01733 237 286 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web www.noda.org.uk
Registered charity number 254640 Registered company number 241572 Registered in England and VVales at the above. address Patron: The Lord Lloyd Webber
SALOS are back at the Wyvern Theatre with their annual production this week, and this year they have returned to the stage with the musical Oliver!
An excellent stage set set the scene for a dark and Dickensian scenario, and was used well throughout the production. The plot moved from scene to scene effortlessly with the help of some good changes and lighting. Russell and his team used the stage well for the huge cast of adults and children in the chorus numbers, and the costumes were good and of the period (unlike in the same production 12 years ago, when we had girls in white mop caps and frilly drawers). But from the opening I had concerns that the orchestra, although good, was a little too loud at times.
The principal characters played their roles well, as did the boys - Ben Canning, who played Oliver, and Charlie Lock as Dodger. Stuart Dark was superb in the role of Mr Bumble, as he was 12 years ago. Jill Carter McCrae made a powerful Nancy, although she did speak a little fast at times. Her rendition of As Long As He Needs Me was sung with passion and her belter of a voice was well suited to the part.
The Sowerberry's, played by Ray Dance and Amy Grimshaw, were those smaller roles that you remember for all the right reasons.
But for me the outstanding role of the night came from James Canning as Fagin. He played it in his own style and sang as only he can.There were moments on this first night which were lost completely when a mistake or forgotten cue spoilt the flow of dialogue. When you have seen Oliver as many times as I have you know where those mistakes occur. I'm sure first night nerves played a part.
That said, SALOS, Russell and his production team have once again put together an entertaining evening, which the audience thoroughly enjoyed.
ROS HOLLANDS (Swindon Advertiser)
The spectacular finale to Oliver! by SALOS
SALOS, founded in 1952, continues its stunning success story this week with Oliver! Lionel Bart's musical version of Dickens' famous novel Oliver Twist. The rapturous response of audiences at the Wyvern is well deserved by the large cast, orchestra and stage crew, all deftly directed by Russell Langdown.
The show has excellent choreography, fine dancers and a strong, well-co-ordinated chorus. Groups of characters create swirling patterns on stage, as the action glides from scene to scene. The two tier set, with ingenious effects and lighting, gives authenticity to the various locations, with thunder setting the initial tone. Good costume, and columns of orphans trooping through the auditorium, add immediacy .
There are brilliant individual performances. The title role is shared by Ben Canning and Kyle Iles, who play three performances each. Another young actor, Charlie Lock, has a key role as the Artful Dodger. James Canning is superb as Fagin, whose soliloquy, Reviewing the Situation, is especially impressive. Ray Dance is delightful as Mr Sowerberry the undertaker, and Amy Grimshaw (Mrs Sowerberry) has a wonderful comic sequence with a coffin. Alison Canning as Widow Corney proves more than a match for Mr Bumble, played with panache by Stuart Dark. Jill Carter McCrae is fantastic as Nancy, the loving woman who seals her own doom at the hand of the evil-tempered Bill Sykes. Lizzy Webb is the sympathetic Bet, and veteran performer Mike Chivers plays the genial Mr Brownlow, who offers unexpected hospitality to Oliver - and ultimately discovers a secret.
The show has masterly moments. The shout ,"My pocket's been picked!" crystallises the action of the entire crowd, who turn almost mechanically, in unison. Another highlight is the brutal murder of Nancy, on London Bridge - and Bet's subsequent recognition of the victim.
This fantastic show runs until Saturday.
Stella Taylor (Wiltshire Gazette & Herald)
Take a look at the recent article in the Gazette & Herald
Take a look at some pictures taken during our Technical & Dress rehearsals - there are some costumes missing, the lighting wasn't complete and you might even see some 'out-take' shots or even the production team or crew at times, but you can see how we get to the point of an actual performance!
With thanks to James & Alison Canning for photography in between their scenes!