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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Oliver! serves up a feast of fabulous songs

CONSIDER yourself in for a treat at Whitehaven Theatre Group’s production of Oliver!

A rich feast of fabulous songs and energetic performances ensured audiences weren’t left wanting more.

The production, which is staged at Whitehaven Civic Hall until Saturday, was a delight with youngsters and adults on Monday’s opening night, all seeming to have a ball with Lionel Bart’s gorgeous score and Dickens’ memorable characters.

Benjamin Johnston was a sweet and gentle Oliver, delivering a poignant rendition of Where is Love? alongside an enjoyable and engaging performance from Scarlett Todhunter as the savvy and streetwise Artful Dodger.

Mike Quinn gave a great turn as the infamous Fagin, all “drink yer gin boys’’ and nervous nursing of his loot, while Aron Armstrong was suitably menacing as Bill Sykes.

Dale Corless as Mr Bumble, Vanessa Cowley as Widow Corney, Jen Todhunter as Mrs Sowerberry and Mark Rudd as Mr Sowerberry also revelled in their roles.

I must single out Jacqui Quinn who was stunning as the decent but doomed Nancy. She brought a warmth to the role which was deeply affecting. Her version of As Long as He Needs Me was lovely.

The cast, and musical director Colin Hoodless, did a cracking job with the songs; particular praise to the players during the fabulous It’s A Fine Life.

A mention also to Cuth Murphy for his pacey, but taut, direction. At just over two hours, the show, sharply choreographed by Kayleigh Cullen, was a joy from start to finish.

Cast: Mr Bumble, Dale Corless; Widow Corney, Vanessa Cowley; Oliver, Benjamin Johnston; Mrs Sowerberry, Jen Todhunter; Mr Sowerberry, Mark Rudd; Charlotte, Danielle Littleton; Noah Claypole, Todd Morgan; Dodger, Scarlett Todhunter; Fagin, Mike Quinn; Nancy, Jacqui Quinn; Bet, Jo Bell; Mr Brownlow, Tony Parker; Mrs Bedwin, Gillian Rothery; Bill Sykes, Aron Armstrong; Charley, Megan Smith and Dr Grimwig, Mark Rudd.

Chorus: Gillian Rothery, Lynsay Benson, Kim Johnston, Lynsey Braber, Kayleigh Cullen, Shaun Donald, Katrina Donald and Danielle McGarry.

Workhouse boys/street urchins: Laura Kelly, Jessica Kelly, Sean Bell, Miles Pattinson, Guy Pattinson, Clark Pattinson, Megan Smith, Fraser Smith, Max Braber, Finlay Todhunter, Rachel Hammond, Rachel Benson, Rachel Cunningham, Kate Singleton, Morgan Allan, Kasey Conway, Cassie McCluskey, Shannon McCaslin, Rebecca Cherry, Shannon Cherry, Lyndsey Armitage and Danielle Littleton.

Director, Cuth Murphy; choreographer, Kayleigh Cullen; musical director, Colin Hoodless and stage manager, Beth Lawrence.

Tickets are £9 for adults, £7 for children/concessions. A family-of-four ticket is £28. Book on 01946 514960.

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