From rags to riches, heartbreak to high jinks, Paul Kerryson’s latest production Oliver! captures all of the emotion and exuberance of Lionel Bart’s classic adaptation.
It would be hard to imagine a musical as well known amongst the British public as Oliver! based on Charles Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist, the tale of a young orphaned boy’s journey from the cruelty of a Victorian workhouse into the arms of a gang of villainous pickpockets is firmly placed within our consciousness.
The story has become so familiar that its characters have reached an archetypal level; Fagin, has become a byword for a penny-pinching thief; Bill Sykes, a mean and vicious bully and Nancy; the tart with a heart. This combined with a host of incidentally recognisable songs; Food, Glorious Food, You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two and Consider Yourself, to name but a few, makes Oliver! an ideal choice for Curve’s second young community musical production.
For a presentation comprised of young actors from across Leicester and Leicestershire with limited or no experience of treading the boards the end result is remarkable; a tribute to the young people themselves and Curve’s first-rate production team.
Taking the lead role, Daniel Cornish sang in a crystal clear voice of angelic beauty during his solo piece Where is Love? conveying the lost youngster’s vulnerability and innocence to a tee. Although Adam Orgrodzinski’s portrayal of Fagin lacked the sinister depths associated with the part, his cowardly shenanigans when confronted by the menacing Bill Sykes did bring much humour to the show. But it is Mary-Jean Caldwell as Nancy who really stood out with her powerful rendition of As Long As He Needs Me.
Visually this was a stunning production. Siobhan Boyd’s eye catching costume design ran the gamut of Victorian society from grubby street urchins and Fagin’s down at heel dandyism to the upper class Mr Brownlow’s waistcoat and tails. Ellyn Philips’s choreography bursts with energy from the darting antics of the mischievous workhouse boys to the cart wheels and high kicks of Nancy and her drunken cohorts in the Three Cripples pub.
Plaudits must also go out to this production’s orchestration. The operatic Who Will Buy? has never sounded so wistful whilst the gypsy fiddle of Reviewing the Situation briskly flitted and raced along with Fagan’s Machiavellian musings.
A classic tale that continues to delight audiences, Curve’s production of Oliver! delivers on all fronts combining the dynamic story with dazzling set design and wonderful vocal performances. With such outstanding achievements to his name one can’t help but ask, “Please Mr Kerryson, can we have some more”?
Oliver! is showing at Curve until August 12th. For More information visit: www.curveonline.co.uk
Or call the box office on 0116 242 3595