I've been "Reviewing the Situation" with Curtain Up's production of "Oliver!" at Grimsby Auditorium
Updated: Feb 1, 2020
An evening spent at the Grimsby Auditorium watching Oliver! By Curtain Up Productions (the artists formerly known as Grimsby and Cleethorpes Amateur Operatic Society) is an evening well-spent. Director Nicola Law’s production of the musical version of Dickens’ story is a fitting contribution to the repertoire of the Cleethorpes company that has been gracing stages locally for well over a hundred years. A striking set is employed perfectly by an enormous cast. A flurry of activity along with a tidal wave of children, keep the pace moving effectively from start to finish. Musical performances under the direction Keith Weston were flawless and the audience will relish hearing all the classics performed impeccably for their delight and delectation.
With such a large cast, it is difficult to mention everyone’s performance, so many cast members impressed, and I am not able to do justice to them all. But Keiran Styles makes a fine young Oliver Twist, reprising the role he played so effectively in a recent production in Lincoln. William Jones manages to steal every scene as the Artful Dodger. “Consider Yourself” is a classic of musical theatre and allows the large adult chorus to shine too, but the Artful Dodger makes the entire audience want to befriend him before the song’s end. The choreography by Joey Baker really played to the strengths of her performers and painted some vibrant pictures on stage.
David Philips as Mr Bumble and Sarah Hagerup as the buxom Widow Corney, made an excellent double act during "I Shall Scream" as did Scott Howson-Smith and Barbara Dowell as the Sowerberrys during "That's Your Funeral" and the subsequent scene at the undertaker's.
Michael Parker cut a menacing and imposing figure as the brutal Bill Sykes and at times was almost channelling Brian Blessed with his beard and booming voice during "My Name"!
The two most iconic roles in the musical however are Fagin and Nancy. John Lane, returning to the role of Fagin once again, has a mischievous glint in his eye and yet manages to portray a man torn between greed, guilt and cowardice. “You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two” sells the character really well as he manipulates his gang and teaches them that bending the rules is fine but “Reviewing the Situation” shows Lane at his finest, demonstrating the moral quandary Fagin is experiencing as the world closes in around him.
Nancy is a role Hayley Wrightam was born to play. Her characterisation, dancing and vocal skills make the audience want to fall in love with her, every time she graces the stage. Her interpretation of “As Long as He Needs Me” is breath-taking and heart-rending in equal measure. The emotion she invests in her performance is clear to see and the gusto with which she and the chorus open Act Two shows a really gifted performer doing what she does best.
The show is thoroughly entertaining and the use of space in the production is a joy to behold, from the opening number “Food Glorious Food” through to “Who Will Buy”. The audience will be delighted by this full blown, blockbuster musical staged by a fine company who remain something for the town to cherish. Get your tickets now before its too late. You will love the way they tell Charles Dickens and Lionel Bart’s masterpiece of musical theatre. “Consider Yourself” warned – miss it and you will have missed out.
Review by Andy Evans 28/01.2020