Printable CopyOLIVER!
Hills Youth Theatre
Stirling Community Theatre
Until 15 Jan 2017

Review by Kylie Pedler

“Oliver!” The musical version of Charles Dickens’ classic novel comes to the stage for one week only.

Director, Judy Sampson and Assistant, Di Mason have shared the smaller roles and singing lines vastly, enabling many cast members to have the moment to shine and cast the major roles well.

Tom Grosser as Oliver Twist is sweet voiced in “Where is Love” and his look of innocence would connect with any audiences’ heartstrings as his unfortunate life-story unfolds.

With a number of the male roles played by female cast members, their efforts to accommodate their voice tone and movements should be applauded. Chloe Zodrow’s Fagin is a mix of likable gentleness, vulnerability and awkward, crotchety evilness. “Reviewing the Situation” is a show highlight. As the Artful Dodger, Serenna Williams has a cheeky charm and fills the stage with sprightly movements. Zoe Hilton is a harsh Mrs Sowerberry, maintaining her character and adding contrast to others sharing the stage and while Matilda Hilton’s interpretation of Nancy required more maturity and street shrewdness, her vocals were strong and her performance of “As Long As He Needs Me” emotionally heart-wrenching.

Overall, the show runs rather smoothly. The set is simple and workable. Scene changes are swift with the cast moving much of the furniture and the multi-layered scenery elements being slowly removed one by one to reveal the next set. However, one could question whether the logistics of such a large cast was considered when designing its placement on the already rather small stage, as there was limited room for the junior, youth and senior ensembles to perform their simple choreography during the big numbers such as “Food, Glorious Food”, “Oom-Pah-Pah”, and “Who Will Buy?”. Unfortunately, a number of ensemble members didn’t look confident in their choreography or lyrics and there were issues with sound and diction particularly from the minor roles.

Despite this, the cast bring passion and zest to the stage and it is evident they love what they are doing. With further rehearsal and direction this production has potential.

P.S While the show is about Oliver, a young orphan and his friends (from the workhouse and the streets gang), parents should remember that Act Two has some rather scary scenes and dark themes.