Review: Oliver! a Rare treat at Alban Arena


Oliver - Credit: Archant

PROUD parents, grandparents, godparents and friends filled the Alban Arena to watch Rare Production’s Oliver! at the weekend.

The young cast (aged eight to 21) had a fantastic time with the lively classic Lionel Bart musical numbers, from the opening Food, Glorious Food to a rousing Consider Yourself finale.

It was a slick production with a terrific set and costumes and a well-rehearsed cast who showed confidence and talent throughout.

Dan Burke as Mr Bumble and Phoebe Shergold-Willis as Widow Corney showed maturity and comic timing and Will Crane and Sophie Brown as Mr and Mrs Sowerberry delivered excellent perfomances, all showing acting talent in what must be tricky roles for young people.

In Rare Productions, the older cast members play every show, and the younger parts are shared between two teams.

After the drama of the opening scenes in the workhouse and funeral parlour, 10-year old Amy Topp, playing Oliver in the Saturday evening performance, delivered a beautiful solo of Where is Love that gave me goosebumps.

I heard glowing reports about Thomas Askew’s Oliver from the “green” team too.

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We enjoyed some excellent singing throughout and a special mention must go to Sarah Parkins as Nancy who delivered a polished and powerful As Long as He Needs Me.

Aiden Doyle’s Sykes was a genuinely menacing presence and he dominated the stage during My Name.

As in any production of Oliver! the characters of Fagin and Dodger have huge audience appeal.

Jack Hamilton’s Fagin was entertaining and charismatic, and got a huge audience response for Reviewing the Situation which he acted and performed perfectly. Cameron Burnett as Dodger had real star quality and could have done exactly the same cheeky cockney performance on a West End stage. I wish I could have seen James Marsh’s Dodger too – apparently also excellent.

The next Rare Production at the Arena will be High School Musical in July and I tried to work out who they might cast in the lead roles; it will be fun to see our young local talent turning their hands to something completely different.

The open auditions are on February 12 and 17. Visit for details.