A classic British tale of rags to riches, Oliver! is a popular piece of musical theatre that will always attract the masses. Coventry Musical Theatre Society has brought the toe-tapping production to life, with an abundance of energy and dramatic flair, it is clear to see the performers are in their element. Faces beam with delight as charming choreography is well executed, lively and full of expression.
I am welcomed to the sold-out auditorium by a stunning backdrop of St. Paul’s Cathedral. A live orchestra warm up and their presence is appreciated, live music always adds quality to a show, and under the Musical Direction of James Suckling the talented musicians create magic with their instruments. The company is large; devoted performers fill the stage, the smallest children melting hearts with their sweet expressions.
The impressive set transports the audience to the slums of London, full of poverty and disease the streets are overpopulated and money is hard to come by. With adult humour, miserable scenes are lightened with comedy and playful gestures. Mrs Corney (played by Sarah Boden) and the intolerable Mr Bumble (played by Matt Everitt) are a great double act, though at first disagreeable they later reveal their hearts are in the right place.
Caleb Griggs-Taylor portrays Oliver with real conviction, not once does he lose momentum for the role, responding to each scene and setting with perfect emotion. Claire Griggs provides great entertainment as Mrs Sowerberry, with a convincing Cockney accent she dominates her husband (played by Terry Bright) and all those around her using fear and cruel taunts.
Songs are well sung, though scene changes and musical numbers could have flowed more seamlessly. Costume is well-sourced, with the use of colours reflecting social class. With a tattered top hat, and wearing distressed velvet The Artful Dodger (played by James Proctor) is engaging and charismatic, it is clear to see the young performer is at home on the stage. Fagin (played by Callum Roberts) is incredibly well cast, smashing Pick a Pocket or Two’and playing up to his role, successfully securing the biggest laughs of the evening.
Best singer in show goes to Hannah Farquharson for her portrayal of Nancy; with a rough charm she makes a vibrant entrance and absorbs the limelight. Hannah is the full package, with a large range and effortless vibrato; she is the calibre of performer that rivals the West End professionals.
For warm laughs and songs full of clout, Oliver! is the perfect show for all ages. Full of spirit and great showmanship Coventry Musical Theatre Society publicly parade the star quality behind their NODA award collection, creating a legacy full of success.
For more information and to book tickets click here or call the Belgrade Theatre box office on 024 7655 3055.
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