by Lionel Bart
Director Tessa Davis
Musical Director Sue Edwards
Choreographer Karen Baker
"We were also treated to an excellent performance from Sam Keys as Nancy. Beautiful voice, and excellent acting. Nancy was well supported too by Izzy Bailey as Bet, another actress with a fine voice. Dean Mobley as Bill Sykes, was as evil as they come: he did the most amazing ‘death fall’ bringing gasps from the audience." NODA
As the whole world probably knows, Lionel Bart’s most famous musical is based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and follows the adventures of Oliver, an orphan boy who manages to escape from the brutalities of the workhouse and finds refuge in London with small time crook, Fagin, and his gang of young pick-pockets. But a chance encounter with the wealthy Mr. Brownlow sets in motion a chain of events which will change Oliver’s life forever. This show’s award-winning score overflows with well-loved songs such as ‘Consider Yourself’, ‘Where is Love’ and ‘As Long as He Needs Me’.
The excellent setting on two levels had to provide the backdrop for a variety of scenes and worked well in the main although at times necessitated bringing in the black travellers for a couple of interior scenes which also worked well enough. The only scene which did not work well was the Brownlow’s home as this was set on the upper-level stage right which caused sightline problems for those sitting on the left side of the auditorium. That said though it made for a nice picture with Oliver and Mrs. Bedwin watching from the ‘window’ during the absolutely excellent Who will Buy.
The large set did not give the equally large cast much acting space but everyone managed very well and compliments to the cast for executing Karen Baker’s choreography so well: particularly impressive was Fagin’s gang with Be Back Soon.
At the performance I saw, Eddie Davis took on the role of Oliver. This young actor, epitomizing everyone’s vision of Oliver Twist, gave a very convincing performance. Calum Banks as the Artful Dodger was another talented young actor confident and natural in his role.
We were treated to an amusing scene between Widow Corney (played by Suze Holding) and Mr. Bumble (Adrian Bailey – nicely padded out to create everyone’s idea of this character’s appearance). The scene in the undertakers was equally amusing with Kevin Moss and Linda Keys both excellent as Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry.
Ray Cheal reprised his 2004 role of Fagin with obvious enjoyment; a great performance. We were also treated to an excellent performance from Sam Keys as Nancy. Beautiful voice, and excellent acting. Nancy was well supported too by Izzy Bailey as Bet, another actress with a fine voice. Dean Mobley as Bill Sykes, was as evil as they come: he did the most amazing ‘death fall’ bringing gasps from the audience. Good support too was given by Janet Sandford (Mrs. Bedwin) and Vic Ranger (Mr. Brownlow).
Surprisingly the show only has two or three big chorus numbers as far as the adult chorus is concerned but, needless to say, they were all done very well. The orchestra under the direction of Sue Edwards gave terrific support to the singers but were a bit overloud playing under some of the dialogue which unfortunately meant some lines were missed. The costumes and the lighting design were first-rate and compliments to Steven Eacott for some quality follow spot work.
The effort and commitment involved in putting on a show of this calibre is enormous but I am sure, like their audiences, The Dunmow Players considered all the effort worthwhile.