Oliver! review

Nevertheless, Hannah Howard’s ‘Nancy’ deserves honourable mention. She threw herself heart and soul into the part, singing and dancing with no inhibitions the “Om Pah Pah” number in the “Three Cripples” scene, showing a touch of bravado in It’s a Fine Life — which it was not.

Those of us who saw the film of the musical in the late 1960s had almost forgotten the biting satire in the lyrics, brought vividly to life in the stage presentation in the Queen’s Hall.

At times, Maurice Rawlins had some trouble with his diction in “Reviewing the Situation”, perhaps his Fagin was a touch over sympathetic to the boys, one did not sense the menace behind his apparent care for them. As Bill Sykes, Teron Lougheed had little to do but stand around and look vicious and threatening — which he did.

Andrew Seepersad’s Mr Bumble was suitably pompous, the Widow Corney (Lureila Reid) a good foil to take him down a peg. Jeremy Callaghan as Mr Brownlow charged to and fro across the stage chasing the sneak thieves at top speed making one fear for a crash and bang offstage to bring the show to a grinding halt — but all was well.

We enjoyed Kristopher Sylvester’s cameo performance of Dr Grimwig, the assorted street vendors and the sharp-tongued Mrs Sowerberry (Kendra Sylvester).

With a cast list of 22 plus 13 workhouse boys cum Fagin’s gang and a chorus of 13 (or more) townspeople, it’s impossible to mention by name all those who appeared on stage.

Jessel Murray needs no praise for his musical direction; however one couldn’t help one quibble because at times the brass drowned out the words in the more exuberant choruses — but that might have been due to the placing of the microphones on stage.

The set was simple and effective, changes between scenes were unobtrusive. The costumes, too, were simple, yet conveyed a sense of period.

Oliver! was in truth and in fact a musical treat, as near professional as one can get with the constraints of budgeting, performers and back-stage crews who have to work for their living (or study for exams) outside theatre.

Newsday congratulates the UWI Festival Arts Chorale on another excellent production. What a pity that the hall wasn’t filled to capacity — as, by rights, it should have been — instead of being only a quarter-full as it was for the Friday night’s performance when the audience failed to give the cast a standing ovation and only one curtain call for a performance that deserved at least three...


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