Hearty Congratulations are due to The Orchard Players and director Glyn Hill for their stunning production of “Oliver”, their annual summer show for this year.
It was without doubt one of the best versions of this show that I personally have seen, and judging by the audience reaction on the night when Capel Ladies watched it, I wasn’t the only person to think that!
Oliver is one of the best-loved of British musicals with so many memorable songs and a great storyline, but it still needs an able team of performers to step up and do it justice, and that’s exactly what the Orchard Players did! There was a large cast of 40, including 15 youngsters, many of whom had never performed before.
The setting of Victorian London seemed to extend into the auditorium with brick paper covering the front and sides of the stage, and there was a tall, brick tower to one side which Bill Sikes climbed as he fled the Bow Street Runners. Even the talented musicians who played live for the performances were in their own sectioned-off corner with a washing line of “wipes” (the silk handkerchiefs that Fagin’s urchins regularly pick-pocketed) hanging up around them! Scene changes – and there were lots of these – were executed efficiently and seamlessly, and the costumes were amazing! The lighting and special effects, like the murder scene, previously filmed in silhouette, also added to the atmosphere.
But the stars of the show were the actors themselves – each character portrayed just as you would have expected to see them in a London show! Fagin, as the cunning, silver-tongued Jewish ‘protector’ of the gang of urchins, Bill Sikes, terrifying as the murderous criminal, and Nancy as the loyal, caring street-girl who loved him in spite of his cruelty towards her. Her version of the song “As Long As He Needs Me” brought a tear to my eye.
And then there were the children! Their singing, dancing, acting and enthusiasm was AMAZING! They obviously loved what they were doing and gave top performances, especially the star of the show – Oliver! Once again, when he sang “Where is Love?” there was a lump in my throat!
There were many notable moments and great performances by a number of the cast, too many to mention here. It was certainly a memorable evening’s entertainment, and I could have watched it all over again and enjoyed it as much!
Report by Sue Woolgar