Harpenden Society's Oliver leaves you wanting more

PUBLISHED: 10:37 26 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:03 06 May 2010

PERHAPS it is because so many of the cast are youngsters that the Lionel Bart musical Oliver! retains its freshness. But whatever the reason, Harpenden Light Operatic Society s production of the show this week is a really happy event. The big problem for

PERHAPS it is because so many of the cast are youngsters that the Lionel Bart musical Oliver! retains its freshness.

But whatever the reason, Harpenden Light Operatic Society's production of the show this week is a really happy event.

The big problem for a reviewer is that just going on one night means you only get half an impression of the whole production because the company has two casts of children performing on alternate nights. Suffice to say that those who took part in Monday's first night at Harpenden Public Halls did a first-class job.

Topping the list was Harvey Eldridge who spent his 12th birthday on stage playing the part of Oliver and Billy Tolhurst, also 12, as The Artful Dodger. Both boys appeared to be completely at ease with their parts and sang extremely well.

Company newcomer Sarah Winter was impressive in the part of Nancy. Her voice, which has a slightly jazzy edge to it, absolutely fitted the role.

Company regular Jonathan Field produced a tremendous Fagin, and Charlie Fletcher, who has appeared with the Harpenden society on several previous occasions, created a really dark and sinister Bill Sykes.

Director Sally Davis must also be congratulated on the overall effect of the production and for the excellent preparation work she had clearly undertaken with the children.

And the small pit orchestra under musical director Roy Mathers was also in great form, providing a really good overall sound and some excellent solos from the violin on Fagin's terrific number Reviewing the Situation.

Once more the Harpenden Light Operatic Society proved itself more than able to take on a big challenge and succeed. My only problem with the show was that the stage at Harpenden Public Hall is barely large enough to accommodate some of the bigger production numbers - but that is not something the company can do anything about.

JOHN MANNING

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