After the success of ‘The Sound of Music’ in 2008, the Junior and Senior Dramatic Societies decided to try their hand at one of the most beloved musicals, ‘Oliver!” which brings to life the story of Dickens’ well-known character, the boy who wanted more.
The story is set in the dark and dangerous streets of Victorian London which are ruled by a band of young thieves and their notorious guardian, Fagin. As a result of having the audacity to ask for more, Oliver, an orphan, is sold to an undertaker and given the grand title of ‘coffin follower’. He soon runs away, however, when he is bullied. Oliver finds himself alone on the streets, when he meets the friendly Dodger who takes him under his wing. So begins the adventure with Fagin, Bill Sykes and the kind-hearted Nancy in which he witnesses theft, kidnapping and murder. All turns out well for the young orphan, however, when he finds a real home and a family.
Alexander O’Neill’s rendition of ‘Where is Love’ in auditions left hardly a dry eye in the room and secured him the role of Oliver; his sequential performances were not a disappointment. A brave decision was taken to cast a girl in the role of Fagin and paid dividends, with Leonie Livingstone delivering an electric performance. Harriet Scott was an obvious choice for Nancy and portrayed the character of Nancy with just the right mixture of sensitivity and ‘Oom Pah Pah’. Nancy and Fagin were ably supported by Adele Gass and Patrick Ballantine in their roles as Bet and Dodger. The song ‘I’d do anything’ displayed the on-stage chemistry of all four beautifully. The cute factor was supplied by our merry band of orphans and Fagin’s gang, who survived the surprisingly authentic conditions in rehearsals as the producers and choreographer kept them in line. The hard work paid off and they delighted the audience with their singing and dancing. The darker side of Victorian London was seen vividly in Aaron Crawford’s portrayal of Bill Sykes. As a Sixth Form pupil, his debut performance left us shaking in our shoes. There were several contenders for the best comic role! Joanna Martinet is a familiar face on stage in the Royal School. Her partnership with Mark McClatchey, as the macabre undertaker and his even more macabre wife, brought the house down. Mr and Mrs Bumble, played by Zoe Eves and Hannah Agnew, lived up to their names and their rather explosive relationship filled the hall with rolls of laughter. Supporting performances by Joshua Eves, Tom Hamilton-Stubber, Suzanne Herron, Shannen Gass and Lydia McGowan were all carried off with great enthusiasm and skill. Praise is also due to the adult chorus, who through much intense training with Miss McCartney, danced worthy of a West End performance.
The work involved in such a performance is phenomenal and is only possible through a huge team effort. Our thanks goes, firstly, to the cast for their hard-work and co-operation throughout and to all those who helped in rehearsals and backstage with lighting, costumes, make-up, sound (Mr E McCusker), scenery and props. A special thanks must go to the orchestra and members of staff (Miss L McCartney, Miss C Robinson, Miss F Lyons, Mrs A Harris, Mr S Cardwell, Mr P Clarke, Mr A Morrow, Mr R Shufflebottom, Mrs S Irwin, Mrs S Kinnear, Mrs R McDowell and Miss W Fleming) who so willingly gave up their time to make the production such a success.
Producers: Miss Gillian Hamilton, Mrs Lynn Montgomery, Miss Heather Wright
Musical Director: Miss Diane Crozier