Directors – Nick Selin & Kelly Mepham
Musical Director – Karen Chinery
Choreographer – Victoria Harvey

Reviewed at Haverhill Arts Centre on Friday 26th May 2017

This was a great choice of show for a society with some very talented and versatile performers, joined for this production by approximately thirty children divided into two groups and of course a dog.

Lionel Bart’s iconic musical, based on Charles Dickens Oliver Twist needs no introduction. It remains a favourite of musical theatre companies and has all the ingredients for a surefire success. Nick Selin and Kelly Mepham are to be congratulated on their direction of the large cast and MD Karen Chinery’s expertise ensured that the great musical numbers were reproduced to the highest possible standard. Congratulations also to Victoria Harvey who put the cast through their paces and produced some lovely lively dance numbers. Everyone on stage looked as though they were thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Arthur Cannon was Oliver on the evening of this review and a very good job he made of it. Joined by brother Toby Cannon as Dodger, this was something of a family affair and it was obvious we were watching emerging talent. Very well done to both these young people. They were well supported by Fagin’s gang and the workhouse children, played at this performance by the group named in the programme as Toby’s Takers.

All the adult principals were well cast and gave strong performances. Andy Letcher made an excellent Mr Bumble and his pairing with Kate Davy as Widow Corney worked well. Steve Murray was equally good as Sowerberry and Mr Brownlow.

There were other good performances from Faye Dower as Nancy’s loyal friend Bet, Wesley Ruthven and Laura Dodd as Noah and Charlotte, Lorraine Mason as Mrs Bedwin and Charlie Moody as Dr Grimwig. Well done to Jane Baillie who did a great job as the over excitable Mrs Sowerberry.

Paul Gardiner was suitably scary as Sykes, accompanied by his dog Bullseye, who was very well behaved. Unfortunately he can’t be mentioned by name as he does not appear to be credited in the programme, which is a shame.

An excellent performance from Nik Hedges as Fagin. The mannerisms, the voice, the walk, all were spot on.

Very well done to Becca Neal who poured her heart and soul into the role of Nancy. A powerful, emotionally charged performance which can only be described as superb.

A very well thought out set, built in-house, enabled uncomplicated scene changes which were swiftly carried out by the back stage crew. The bridge was very effective, doubling as it did as London Bridge and the interior of Mr Brownlow’s house.

The show was well costumed and the lighting and sound were good. The orchestra under the direction of Karen Chinery provided excellent, well balanced accompaniment.

This was a production Centre Stage Company can be justifiably proud of. It had all the ingredients for a great night out at the theatre, which is just what we had.

Thank you for inviting me and, as always, for the warm welcome and hospitality.

Decia Ranger
District 7