“Please sir, can I have some more?” Oliver’s immortal plea couldn’t have been a more apt request when leaving Stourbridge Amateur Operatic Society’s production of Lionel Bart’s musical based on Charles Dickens’ famous story. From the cheery opening chorus of Food Glorious Food this vibrant production, under the direction of David Shaw, was a delicious treat full of thumping good tunes and whip smart choreography by Amy Williams.
The dozen young performers who made-up Fagin’s gang and the workhouse children were uniformly buoyant and confident and it was great to hear such young voices singing with clarity throughout. In the title role, Harrison Eno is a sweet singing cherubic Oliver, and his new found pal, the Artful Dodger, played by George Blower was a real charmer.
Leon Davies gave us an exemplary Fagin – the perfect combination of a slippery, sinister crook played with a touch of wit. Anna Forster plays Nancy with gusto and passion. Her performance was full of infectious vivacity particularly when the stage filled with the lively chorus for a Cockney knees-up during the raucous Oom-Pah-Pah. The ensemble chorus and choreography in this scene really packed a punch.
The Bloomsbury scene was colourful and full of some lovely detail - the school mistress and her pupils, flower sellers and milk maids. Personally (and this is a minor quibble) I would have liked a little more contrast to the dynamics during the quartet of voices in Who Will Buy? - a softer pianissimo would have given it more space and a dream like quality.
Special mention must go to the live band (it would have been nice to have their names in the programme), led by musical director, George Stuart and in particular the beautiful solo Kletzmer violin that features as part of Fagin’s number, Reviewing The Situation (sung brilliantly by Leon Davies), as he dithers between crime and respectability.
A final special mention to the stage management team for the fluent staging and the evocative lighting by Matt Bird. It takes a lot of dedication to pull off a show of this quality so hats off to SAOS, it’s great to see such a thriving company. Consider yourselves a success!
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