Oliver!
Nomination - Best Leading Male Actor in a Musical (NODA) - Steve Benson
31st October - 5th November 2016
Photographs by John Tustin
Production Officials
Director Nora Howcroft
Musical Director Adrienne Wormald
Choreographer Lara Crombie-Syddall
Assistant Director Helen McGrath
Cast
Oliver Twist Sam Fullarton
Mr Bumble Dave Reeves
Widow Corney Eileen Reeves
Noah Claypole Nathan Haslam
Mr Sowerberry Mike Donohue
Mrs Sowerberry Teresa Harper
Charlotte Zara Horn
The Artful Dodger Tom Wilson
Fagin Steve Benson
Nancy Vicki Wilson
Charley Bates Natalie Wilson
Bet Catherine Wooldridge
Old Sally Val Greenhalgh
Bill Sykes David Wilson
Mrs Bedwin Julie Ogden
Mr Brownlow Mike Taylor
Dr Grimwig Stewart Ball
Rose Seller Jane Bickerstaffe
Milkmaid Lindsay Farnworth
Strawberry Seller Sarah Davey
Knife Grinder David Witt
Long Song Seller Rob Slater
Workhouse boys/Fagin's Gang
Ben Arthern, Zachary Baker, Mia Beardshall, Jacob Berry, Nina Dickinson, Olivia Hayes, Grace Higginson, Theo Lindley, Lewis Mayo, Katie Ryding, Scarlett Sandiford, Annabelle Smith, Scarlet Trundle, Molly Wilsdon, Natalie Wilson, Luke Witt
Company
Dennis Boulderstone, Carole Brooks, Kathy Clift, Gill Davies, Joe Davies, Linda Hardy, Mitchell Higson, Dorothy Jones, Karen Lund, Dave McGreavy, Barbara Martin, Charlotte Parmar, Mary Pycroft, Maria Sharrocks, Trish Shorten, Joyce Walters, Janet Witt
  • Mr Bumble and Oliver "Please, sir, I want some more" Mr Bumble and Oliver "Please, sir, I want some more"
  • Oliver Oliver
  • Workhouse Boys "Food, Glorious Food" Workhouse Boys "Food, Glorious Food"
  • Widow Corney and Mr Bumble Widow Corney and Mr Bumble
  • Mrs and Mr Sowerberry Mrs and Mr Sowerberry
  • Noah Claypole, Charlotte and Oliver Noah Claypole, Charlotte and Oliver
  • The Artful Dodger and Oliver The Artful Dodger and Oliver
  • "Consider Yourself" "Consider Yourself"
  • Fagin Fagin
  • Fagin and his boys "Pick A Pocket Or Two" Fagin and his boys "Pick A Pocket Or Two"
  • Nancy Nancy
  • Bet, Nancy and boys "It's A Fine Life" Bet, Nancy and boys "It's A Fine Life"
  • Bill Sykes Bill Sykes
  • Street People Street People
  • Nancy and Chorus "Oom-Pah-Pah" Nancy and Chorus "Oom-Pah-Pah"
  • Street Sellers "Who Will Buy" Street Sellers "Who Will Buy"
  • Mr Brownlow and Mrs Bedwin Mr Brownlow and Mrs Bedwin
  • The Company The Company

  • BATS Review
  • NODA Review
  • Here4You Magazine
However many times you see the classic musical, Oliver, it never tires. This timeless and much loved piece was in the more than capable hands of award-winning society Walmsley Church A.O.D.S. Director, Nora Howcroft, has gathered an extremely talented line-up who all worked extremely hard to bring this production to life.

Sam Fullarton in the title role of Oliver was perfect for the part with good acting and a lovely singing voice to boot. Sam is certainly one to watch for the future. Husband and Wife team, David and Eileen Reeves gave an excellent performance of 'I Shall Scream' in their roles of Mr Bumble and Widow Corney. Great comic timing and excellent vocals to boot. Another husband and wife team were on top form too. Vicki Wilson in the role of Nancy was assured and gave us some great vocals whilst David Wilson in the role of Bill Sykes brought the nasty character to life with aplomb. Also keeping it in the family was Tom Wilson, son of the aforementioned, in the role of The Artful Dodger; a chip off the old block is the phrase that comes to mind. Tom showed a lot of promise in this role and I am sure we will be seeing him again in the not too distant future.

A special mention must go to Steve Benson in the role of Fagin. Benson's performance was astonishing. It was difficult to make out that it was actually him because of the transformation through make-up, costume and characterisation. A totally well-studied interpretation that was a joy to watch.

The workhouse/ Fagin's gang children did very well and were complemented by a large company ensemble, many of which took on other supporting roles. They all tackled the full company numbers under the choreography of Lara Crombie-Syddall with ease. The orchestra, under the baton of Musical Director Adrienne Wormald, did great justice to the well-loved score.

With a simple yet very effective set we were transformed from one scene to another with ease through lighting and clever staging.

The near capacity audience were greatly appreciative of another excellent production from this extremely talented society.

Graham Cohen
Once again this society gave us a super show. Taking the part of Oliver Twist was Sam Fullarton. He has a beautiful pure voice especially as he sung 'Where is Love'. I felt he could have enjoyed himself a little more as he joined in 'Consider Yourself' and 'I'd Do Anything'. That apart, he was very good in this part.

Fagin was played brilliantly by Steve Benson. His rapport with the young gang was superb. Vicki Wilson was excellent as Nancy, whilst her real life husband was a very evil Bill Sykes. Another member of the Wilson family was son Tom who gave a good performance as The Artful Dodger.

The undertakers scene was a perfect introduction to the Sowerberrys, with great acting from Mike Donohue and Teresa Harper as Mr and Mrs Sowerberry. Also in this scene was Charlotte (Zara Horn) and Noah Claypole (Nathan Haslam), both acting very well.

David and Eileen Reeves gave a good performance as Mr Bumble and Widow Corney. All the smaller parts were well cast and eminently suited to the character they portrayed. The adult chorus sang as usual beautifully. I must however compliment all the cast in the number 'Who Will Buy'; I have never heard it sung better. Brilliant.

Finally, the children. You were fantastic. From the opening number as the workhouse children singing a wonderful 'Food Glorious Food' and then becoming Fagin's Gang, without doubt, with every appearance you stole the show. You were all word and dance perfect from the tiny ones to those a little older. Well Done.

Thank you so much for the care given to me and delivering such a great show.

Jackie Kay
The brilliantly talented members of Walmsley Church AODS served to the opening night capacity audience the equivalent of a luxury five star meal to suit all tastes.

This is Charles Dickens at his best and add to this story, the great music by Lionel Bart, who could ask for more. But we were given more and more and much more throughout this fantastic production.

From the opening moments when we see 'Oliver's' destitute, sick mother arriving in a thunderstorm at the Workhouse, we are then taken on a journey with the orphaned 'Oliver 'through his young life. At one of the horrendous workhouse meals, he bravely asks 'Please Sir, I want some more', he is then sold to an undertaker, escapes the clutches of more humiliation and gets caught up in the seedy crime ridden world of the streets of London but in the end all comes to a happy conclusion for 'Oliver'.

The characters that intertwine in 'Oliver's life could not be more varied and all of these are brought to life by a very gifted and exceptional team of performers. It was hard to believe that this was an amateur show.

'Oliver' is played by the extremely endearing Sam Fullarton who can act, sing and move. I have seen many productions of this show both professional and amateur but Sam tops the lot. He had the audience in the palm of his hand throughout the show. His song 'Where Is Love' was heart-wrenching.

In the part of 'Fagin', Steve Benson was outstanding. The broad spectrum of this man's talent is staggering. He wrung every nuance from this character and every scene he played brought a different aspect to this very diverse role. He was funny, evil, soul-searching, downtrodden, mediating, and manipulating, yet in the end he made sure that we all still love 'Fagin'. His 'Reviewing The Situation' was a Master-class of theatre.

There is hit song after hit song in this show and they just keep coming, however Vicki Wilson as 'Nancy' brought the house down with her rendition of the hit song 'As Long As He Needs Me'. Again we have a performer who can turn her acting and singing skills to any role and as the vulnerable 'Nancy' she too was excellent.

'The Artful Dodger' was in the very capable hands of Tom Wilson and he was so solid in this his first major role. He gave us the cocky, Mr Streetwise 'Dodger' but then he brought a helplessness to his character when things take a turn for the worse in his life.

'Bill Sykes' only appears in Act two but David Wilson certainly made an impact with his first entrance. He played the part as a psychotic bully with no respect for anyone and boy was he scary. This was a true characterisation as written by Dickens.

Eileen and David Reeves as the hapless 'Widow Corney' and 'Mr Bumble' were first rate and brought great comedy into their roles as did Mike Donohue and Teresa Harper as 'Mr and Mrs Sowerberry', the undertakers. These four all have immense stage experience and this was certainly used to great effect in bringing these larger than life characters from the pages of the book and onto the stage.

Bringing the cosy side to 'Oliver's' life we had Mike Taylor as 'Mr Brownlow', Julie Ogden as 'Mrs Bedwin' and Stewart Ball as 'Dr Grimwig'. They too were wonderful, warm characters and brought a great contrast to 'Oliver's' stark existence.

Catherine Wooldridge as 'Bet', Zara Horn as 'Charlotte' and Nathan Haslam as 'Noah Claypole', Natalie Wilson as 'Charley Bates, Val Greenhalgh as 'old Sally' and Trish Shorten as 'Annie' were also admirable in their roles.

The company headed by 'Rose Seller' Jane Bickerstaffe, 'Milk Maid' Lindsay Farnworth, 'Strawberry Seller' Sarah Davey, 'Knife Grinder' David Witt and 'Long Song Seller' Rob Slater were just super. They threw themselves headlong into their company songs, 'Consider Yourself', 'Oom-Pah-Pah' and 'Who Will Buy' with great enthusiasm.

And all this was topped off with a group of sixteen young children who doubled as the 'Workhouse Children' and 'Fagin's Gang'. They never put a foot wrong from beginning to end as they sang, danced and acted their way through this iconic musical. Well done…you were brilliant. They were a joy to watch.

The set was just awesome as were the costumes and added to this was great atmospheric lighting and sound.

This show was brought together by Musical Director, Adrienne Wormald conducting an orchestra worthy of any professional show, lively enthusiastic choreography by Lara Crombie-Syddall and Directed by Nora Howcroft, assisted by Helen McGrath to make this yet another seamless theatrical experience as this society goes from strength to strength.

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