REVIEW: Oliver! The Musical, Ponteland Repertory Society

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson
Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Oliver Twist asked for more during this show, and we left wanting more too

This production was superb and packed a punch, thanks to a fabulous ensemble performance.

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

With a cast of nearly 40 and a behind-the-scenes group of about the same, this production was a huge community effort, and it deserves as much support as it can get.

Last week’s performance of Oliver!, the 1968 Lionel Bart musical based on the 1838 Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, by Ponteland Repertory Society was an absolute delight to watch.

Crammed into the Memorial Hall, we saw a production which had a stunning set, some brilliant costumes and larger-than-life performances.

The story of Oliver is one that doesn’t need much explaining. You have one orphan boy destined for more than just the workhouse. He escapes life as an undertaker’s apprentice and heads to the misty city of London.

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Oliver (William Ayliffe in this performance, but shared with Cameron Davison) quickly mixes with the wrong crowd and turns to a life of pick-pocketing under the training of the Artful Dodger (Andrew Potter) and the ruthless Fagin (Jonny Woollett).

In the mix of all this clamour is a struggling relationship between Bill Sykes (Andrew Vine) and Nancy (Lucy Walton).

On stage, you have fantastic performances from children under the age of ten through to pensioners, and that is why the show is such a triumph.

The children are so unbelievably talented that the local high school’s drama department will be begging for them in future years. The performances by Ayliffe and Potter are the ones that are truly worth praise. Young Ayliffe’s performance tugged at your heartstrings, while Potter is at home in his mischievous role.

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Some great performances also came from Woollett and Vine, both truly menacing in such different ways.

But the performance that will steal your hearts is Rep favourite Lucy Walton as Nancy.

She was a real pleasure to watch. Every line was delivered with conviction and authority. Her singing voice will move you to tears, and you can tell she completely understands her role as a young girl unlucky in love. She was a true leading lady and gave a breathtaking performance.

I also enjoyed the fact that director Carole Davies gave Bet (played by Hannah Elliott) more singing as I’ve always seen it as a very under-used role.

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

The group is holding auditions for its next production, Wind in the Willows, on Sunday at Ponteland Leisure Centre. The production takes place in early March. For further information about the auditions, contact malajanes@icloud.com or visit www.pontelandrep.co.uk

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Ponteland Repertory society's latest production of Oliver! The Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson