From the producers of ‘Priscilla Queen Of The Desert’, ‘Annie’, ‘The Producers’ and ‘Shrek’ this week Astravaganza Entertainment brought the classic tale of Oliver to the stage.
In the world of classic literature, few stories have captivated readers’ hearts and minds as enduringly as Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.” This timeless tale, penned in the 19th century, continues to resonate with audiences of all ages, transcending the boundaries of time and culture.
Tonight on opening night we saw Team Jelly who are performing on the latter Friday evening and Saturday Matinee performances also.
I’ve seen a a selection of theatre shows at the Tyne Theatre over the last few years, this being the second from Astravaganza and have to say in my opinion the staging and overall delivery of this show, outshone their previous production of Priscilla of which I did enjoy. However feel this was better executed, delivered and finished overall.
The staging was was quite static in its set up, which needed to be for the bridge which also adapted as staircase when in Fagins hideout. Scenes were simply adapted with props and use of the curtain, it was easy to know where you were with transitions working well. The costumes are great and dancing choreographed well.
Credit has to go to everyone that performed in the production as it would be unfair to leave anyone out, the energy from the start is infectious from the opening number and throughout. However no doubt there’s a few you’ll want to know about.
Lewis Wilkinson and Karen Humphrey’s brought plenty of humour as Mr Bumble and Widow Corney in their banter back and forth albeit with some adult humour or innuendo.
Ollie Raines portrays our central character brilliantly, soft voiced, well elocuted and hopeful. This young orphan moves from workhouse to funeral directors to Fagins gang, seeing hope and positivity throughout despite his circumstances.
Ella McFetrich was the cheeky Artful Dodger and does a great job in being our top pick pocket until she loses Oliver when out on his first job. Liam Grahame Olsen undertook the role of Fagin, head of the criminal gang who took Oliver in with an expectation to earn his way. Highlight for the audience was his rendition of ‘Reviewing the Situation’.
He says no one mentions ‘my name’ but I have too, Gareth Lilley was sublime as our nasty Bill Sykes, big and broad in stature and as mean as as could be, I couldn’t see any empathy from this guy at all. Reflected in his treatment of Oliver and wife Nancy with justice being served by the end of the show.
Nancy, played tonight by Nathalie Baxter was my stand out. I really enjoyed her performance of this mistreated wife who takes a liking to Oliver and despite the consequences wants better for him. She had many moments in songs like ‘It’s a fine life and Oom-Pah-Pah but truly excelled in ‘As long as he needs me’ which brought one of the biggest reactions for the night.
Classic songs like ‘Food, Glorious food’, ‘Consider Yourself’, ‘You’ve got to pick a pocket or two’also got big reactions, but my favourite came from Oliver, Vendors and the Company with ‘Who will buy’. What I also really loved was the live orchestra on display which for me always adds another dimension to a show.
Again to all the principal cast I may not have mentioned, the ensemble and team jelly, you all brought this show to life in the best way possible. And to Team Custard I’m sure you’ll do just as well in your shows.
Oliver is a classic tale enjoyable for everyone young to old. I’ve no doubt whatever team you see perform alongside the principal cast they will bring you the same fantastic performance as I saw tonight.
Images (Rehearsal Images): One Imager
Approximate show timings for Wed 6 Sep – Sat 9 Sep (19:15):
Doors to bars: 18:15 Doors to seats: 18:45
Show start: 19:15 Interval: 20:35
Act 2: 20:45 Show end: 21:45
Approximate show timings for Sat 9 Sep (14:15):
Doors to bars: 13:15 Doors to seats: 13:45
Show start: 14:15 Interval: 15:35
Act 2: 15:45 Show end: 16:45
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