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OLIVER! THE MUSICAL @ Koorliny Arts Centre gets 7.5/10

Oliver! The Musical @ Koorliny Arts Centre
Saturday, July 13, 2019

7.5/10

The triumphant success of Oliver! The Musical at Koorliny Arts Centre is a reassurance that community theatre is alive and well. This collaboration between Laughing Horse Productions and Koorliny Arts Centre combined all the right ingredients, producing a deliciously glorious concoction of musical theatre.

Director Adam Salathiel guided his cast and crew superbly towards a polished, confident and joyful reproduction of the popular Lionel Bart musical. It is clear through Salathiel’s artful direction that he cares deeply for each individual, bringing out their best and generously creating a vivid retelling of the story that captivated the audience. Fresh-faced Liam House worked his magic as the musical director leading the 15-piece orchestra, as well as expertly developing harmonies and vocally instructing the cast.


The stage was set as a bleak and dreary orphanage staffed with sour-faced, pompous personnel but quickly filled with energetic children belting out the heartfelt, joyful opening number, Food, Glorious Food. The orphan ensemble brought contagious smiles to the faces in the audience with their delightful lack of inhibitions and childlike imperfections. Here we met our hero, Oliver, brought to life by the wide-eyed innocence of 8-year-old Duncan Ferguson whose gentle voice, sweetness and humble presence was perfect for the role. Supported by some of the younger members of the adult ensemble, the numbers presented by the children were flawless and full of life. In later scenes, the orphan ensemble played the role of children in another type of orphanage under the care of Fagin, a lovely comic role played by Mark Thompson. His side-kick, Artful Dodger, was portrayed with great strength by young Kelsey Morandin.


Zoe Jay’s choreography stayed true to the period of the story’s setting and was dynamic and well-crafted, and along with the blocking worked naturally to accentuate each scene. The crew worked the transitions quickly, transforming the cleverly designed set from scene to scene. Numbers involving the whole cast were rich in texture and full of life. The entire ensemble was very well cast, a great mix of both newcomers and more expert performers. This is the beauty of community theatre – everyone shines and has their opportunity for a moment in the spotlight.

Georgia McGivern and Peter ‘Pear’ Carr, playing Nancy and Bill Sykes, lit up the stage with outstanding performances. Carr’s menacing intimidation as Bill was great and McGivern as Nancy was well-matched as a gutsy protagonist, standing up to him when necessary. McGivern has a captivating stage presence that was perfectly suited to the character. She was loveable, compassionate, beautiful and vocally stunning.

Laughing Horse Productions in partnership with Koorliny Arts Centre have delivered a fine recreation of Oliver! The Musical, and their upcoming shows hold much promise.

JEMMA KUCHEL

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