Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Review: Oliver, by Devizes Musical Theatre
Lionel Bart’s Oliver! The Musical
Dauntsey’s School, West Lavington
Runs until Saturday. April 21
The magnificent stage facilities at Dauntsey’s School give an amateur group the edge when putting on a show as ambitious as Oliver!
Devizes Musical Theatre made the most of the venue for its sell-out production, which lacked nothing in looks and technical expertise.
The musical element, under the direction of Kerry Bishop, was also top notch, except that the musicians’ enthusiasm sometimes failed to take account of small voices and overwhelmed them.
The acting was a little patchy and in some instances, well intentioned advice had turned into acting by numbers. Those actors just need a little more self-belief.
But there was no doubting that each and every member of the company gave their all and loved every minute.
However, it is the pivotal roles that carry the momentum and the company, under the direction of Kim Pearce, cast wisely.
Finlay Wilson looked the part of Oliver. Slender and waif-like, this ten-year-old charmed the audience from the outset. I’m sure the cast had personal microphones and his could have been adjusted for his light voice to carry better. But the spirit of his performance crossed the footlights with no trouble.
Joe McMillan took the role for alternate performances.
Gus Haywood (alternating with Harvey Schorah) was a spirited Artful Dodger and showed a lot of promise.
Anna North’s performance as Nancy was exhilarating, great voice, good acting skills and a natural ebullience.
There was plenty of menace from Sam Phillis as the evil Bill Sykes, gifted with a powerful voice. Sadly, I couldn’t find a programme credit for his very well behaved dog.
The show stealer, though, was Lewis Cowen as Fagin played as an avuncular pickpocket-meister, perhaps not quite the child-exploiter Dickens envisaged. His infectious energy and powerful stage presence lifted the whole show to a new level from the moment he appeared.