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OLIVER

By SADOS at the South Holland Centre, Spalding

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The great comedian WC Fields once said: “Never work with children or animals.” But Lionel Bart ignored that advice when turning this Charles Dickens classic into a musical and, nearly 60 years later, audiences in Spalding have been thrilled by its songs and storyline.

Collaborating with children from The Biz Theatre School in Boston for the first time, this timeless musical theatre classic about the boy who dared to ask for more really entertained a packed house.

Directed by Brett Moore and produced by Charles Long, stand-out performances came from Nigel Hancocks as Fagin, Freddie Fitzpatrick as Artful Dodger, Liam Exton as Oliver and Daisy Ivatt as Nancy. But there were no duff lines or bum notes in a first class performance.

Nigel really did illuminate the stage as Fagin and it was hard to believe he was singing to an audience for the first time.Eleven-year-old Freddie strutted with a confidence that belied his age and a smile fitting for Hollywood, and Liam, also 11, was sweetness personified and the perfect Oliver.

Daisy’s performance as Bill Sykes’ tragic lover Nancy was great... and her whole-hearted singing even better, while Pete Williams was extremely convincing as the frightening, larger than life Bill. His pet dog Lola won over the audience too, as Bullseye, and received affectionate cheers after an unscheduled journey across the stage to check if the “dying” Nancy was okay!

Paul Coleman gave his usual assured performance as Mr Bumble and Noah Claypole made you feel genuinely sorry for Oliver with the realism of his bullying bravado.

The secret to cracking musical theatre is great songs, sung well, and you’d be surprised how many of these smashing tunes you already know. ‘Food, Glorious Food’ (sung by the kids from Biz), ‘Consider Yourself’ (Freddie and Liam), ‘You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two’ (Nigel) and ‘I’d Do Anything’ (Freddie, Daisy, Liam, Holly Whittaker and Nigel) all come from this masterpiece. Which brings me to the musicians, who were superb, conducted excellently by Anthony Grunwell, who was also musical director, assisted by Colette Coleman.

Mark Hancock’s convincing set really did transform the Centre’s stage into Victorian London, and he was assisted as stage manager by Jake Merrill.

You know you’re always going to enjoy a SADOS show, but with this once they really raisedt he bar. Well done.