Oliver! Is a great show with some wonderful music, and the G&S Society almost does it proud. This re-run (because Oliver was not the only one who wanted more!) of a courageous production has some fine solo and ensemble singing, excellent costumes, and admirable sets, as well as some good and some wooden and some over acting, and some somewhat contrived if well executed choreography. Mention must also be made of the creative use of back projection by Mark Wickett.
Emma Bargery as a very likeable Nancy shines as a singer and energetic dancer. Rod Schultz as pickpocket master Fagin makes the most of this wonderful part and is suitably sleazy as well as outwardly caring and possibly even deep down decent. Tall Paul Talbot is excellently fearsome and evil as the horrible Bill Sikes, and does the most authentic accent of all the ruffians grappling with the nastiness of Dickensian London street life.
The production is beautifully designed by David Lampard, who also directed and choreographed the show and played Mr Sowerberry, a role he relished in characterising, showing his agility of body and pleasantness of voice, while some over-acted around him.
Oliver! inevitably centres on children. The chorus of Fagin’s filchers and street urchins, largely made up of members of “Theatre Bugs”, were an intrinsic part of the large cast, while Harry Fiedler as Oliver showed a beautiful voice especially in his charming ruminative rendition of “Where is Love?” His artful sidekick/Dodger was neatly portrayed by Isaiah Fabbro, who is as good a dancer as he is a singer.
There are some wonderfully singable songs in this piece, and the adult chorus made the most of their talent as they enthusiastically oom-pah-pah-ed their way through one of the show’s real highlights, equalled by their energetic rendition of “Who Will Buy?” and “Consider Yourself…”
But the biggest bouquet goes to Musical Director Peter Johns and the excellent Orchestra which he controlled beautifully throughout. The biggest brickbat goes to the administration and publicists of the G&S Society who did not publish – not in their flyers, their posters, or even on their website – what time the show started. Such lack of basic information is unforgivable. Don’t assume it’s 8pm. Be there for 7.30pm – but do be there.
The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SA presents
by Lionel Bart
Director David Lampard
Venue: Arts Theatre | Angas St, Adelaide
Dates: January 31 – February 8, 2014
Tickets: $20.00 – $38.00