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Oliver! Jr

by on 8 May 2023

Singing the Blues

Oliver! Jr

by Lionel Bart

Dramacube Productions, Twickenham Blue Cast at Hampton Hill Theatre until 7th May

Review by Heather Moulson

Matthew Bunn’s prolific multi casting of this iconic and ambitious production paid off once again in his detailed directing Oliver! Jr.  The Twickenham Blue cast, like other casts before them, were impressive.  Each actor played these well-known characters with their own unique interpretation.   

Tinnie McCondach made a gutsy Oliver Twist, and Isla Rivers, playing Mr Bumble, was very articulate with great projection and singing voice.  Food Glorious Food was exuberant and well-choreographed. 

There were strong sound effects and atmospheric lighting, particularly at the undertakers, which formed a stark contrast to Oliver’s Where Is Love?   Jospeh Kirwan crafted the Artful Dodger well and took over the stage, and carried Consider Yourself with gusto.   Fagin, played by Martha Coates was very humorous and well-acted.  Despite Fagin’s exploiting of the young boys, Martha gave the character an underlying empathy.  Singing As Long As He Needs Me with poignancy, and Oom Pah-Pah with great conviction, Larissa Schaffrik’s Nancy was outgoing and edgy with a veneer of vulnerability.   Kayley Minnaar as Bet was an accomplished accessory.  I’ll Do Anything was tender and well performed.   Joshua Briggs commanded his own space as a vibrantly sinister Bill Sykes, the ultimate brutal villain; highly watchable indeed. 

With the junior version, the story is curbed so the action moved quickly, and this really worked giving great impact.  The pace was well directed.   Mr Brownlow, a role stepped in by Lawrence Brake looked good and was wistful and compassionate, and likewise Mrs Bedwin by Isabella James.   They worked well together as they showed Oliver something he had never known – kindness.  Creating a pompous and incredulous Dr Grimwig was a nice touch by Jack Kirwan.   The morning scene of Who Will Buy? was tender. 

Fagin’s introspective Reviewing The Situation was funny and very poignant.  The violin was a clever touch.  So was the taut relationship between Fagin and Bill.  The lighting and music worked with them nicely, combining the tense lighting of Gary Stevenson, Lizzie Lattimore and Dickson Cossar, with the creepy and very effective sound by David Gates.  This teamwork payed off particularly well for the catalyst point of Nancy’s very grim end.   

This Oliver! Jr was a vibrant production, enhanced with slick choreography and musical direction by Rory Cubbin and Heather Stockwell.  Nice combination of bright and grim costume designed by Jo Scholes made a striking contrast.  The simple yet sinister set was successfully designed by Hannah Calaraco. 

The actors in the Blue Cast were a strong team that beautifully delivered a great musical. 

Heather Moulson, May 2023

Photography by Simone Germaine Photography 

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