Oliver!

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
4th-7th March
£15-£19
19.30 (sat-mat 14.30)

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As a self-proclaimed geek of musicals, I was absolutely thrilled to see The Southern Light Operatic Society’s production of Oliver, roll into Edinburgh. As with any show starring a heap of wee ones, the children in the cast done so well. All of them shone like wee diamonds on the stage, the workhouse kids giving us big laughs with their empty bowls and empty bellies and Fagin’s gang as rough, rowdy and raucous as any I’ve seen. Being that I am currently involved in Dunbar Lyric Group’s own amateur production of Oliver! I have seen first hand how difficult it can be to keep even a small group of kids focused at rehearsals, so major respect to the choreographer Janice Bruce who worked wonders getting all of them into their proper places. Alexander Morrison gave us a brilliant portrayal of Oliver, it’s such a huge part and I was massively impressed with his sweet voice (and not one slip-up amongst all those lines). Michael Denvir was an excellent Artful Dodger, cheeky little imp had us charmed instantly.

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Gavin Scott and Judith Walker were absolutely hilarious as Mr Bumble and Widow Corney, the “I Shall Scream” scene loaded with idiotic innuendo and wonderfully sung. A highlight for me, being a fan of all that’s macabre and dark, was “That’s Your Funeral”. Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry (played by Alan Hunter and Averyl Nash) bounced off each other perfectly and the costumes and company all came together in a twisted spectacle, with carried corpses glugging gin and munching on raw meat. Genius.

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Of course Fagin, in my opinion, is one of the greatest parts a man can land in musical theatre. And Charlie Monroe completely entranced us all as that sneaky old soul. “Pick-A-Pocket”, “Reviewing The Situation” and “Be Back Soon” displayed all the facets of this incredible character and my sides were split every time he swished across the stage in that velvet coat. I tip my hat to his extended vocal solos as well, like an ancient, Jewish version of Christina Aguilera?

Lech Boron and Lori Flannigan gave a stunning performance as “the lovers” of the tale, Bill Sykes and Nancy. Often I feel that Bill’s love for Nancy can be lost amid all the violence (and eventual murder)…but I was pleased to feel a proper connection between the two. “My Name” was as hard and dark as Sykes’ heart, mirrored beautifully by Nancy’s “As Long As He Needs Me”, which is a BIG song. Major respect to Lori for those pipes!

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I have to mention at this point, a real life Oliver story at work within the show’s cast. Bullseye, played by Kym the staffie was picked up by local charity Staffie Smiles, walking the streets as a stray. But that pup was born for the stage, wagging and grinning that classic grin, what a star. Now she’s treading the boards and living the high life, good girl.Oliver is, & always shall be, one of the greatest musicals around, every number is enormous and as you can probably imagine I was singing my heart out from the upper circle the whole time. Grab your chance to see this show, it will be worth it.

Reviewer : Gael Curran

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