Directed by Mr J Pessoll.
Musical Direction Mr S Ackroyd.
What better for a chilly wintery night, than to be transported back to a vibrant Victorian world created by Mr Charles Dickens and adapted in to a much-loved musical by Lionel Bart?
In the first production for Derby Moor in a few years, our students have truly risen to new heights – both literally and figuratively.
On entering the hall, we were greeted by a most impressive set on three layers and with a very convenient arch beneath. The set also allows for projection that was employed most effectively throughout the show to provide those all-important backdrops. Quite a change from the normal assembly set up I must say – but totally for the better!
The band had clearly secured sponsorship from Persil, for although they are small in number – they are mighty! I always prefer a live band and Mr Ackroyd, Mr Scott and Sarah Patton did a sterling job of setting the tone perfectly for the performance.
With this set, the band and a full audience it sounds like a wonderful night, right?
Oh wait – the cast! The true stars of the night.
With the overture of familiar tunes, to the stage came our fantastic ensemble to present ‘Food, Glorious Food’. The staging proved its total worth here at allowing effective choreography and ALL cast members to be appreciated. Their diction and projection was clear and their singing most tuneful.
Oliver, played so skilfully and sang so strongly by Alice P, showed his (her? This might get confusing!) plucky confidence straight off the bat by asking for ‘more’ - much to the wrath of Mr Bumble.
Cast out of the Orphanage and set to work by Mr Sowerberry, Oliver had no better of a time thanks to the dreadfully mean Noah Claypole, played so confidently by Holly P.
This first act also gave us wonderful comic timing in the parings of Mr Bumble and Widow Corney (Lewis D and Leah A) and Mr and Mrs Sowerberry (Louey H and Megan S). The two gentlemen clearly trying to make their presence known but always returning to the wonderful wisdom and admonishments of their female counterparts.
In George S we saw the charismatic, cheeky and charming Artful Dodger come to life (I particularly enjoyed his skilful southern accent and excellent projection) to take our Oliver under his wing. Delivered to the ‘care’ of Fagin however, Oliver was not facing the best of prospects. Here I must mention the ‘Best Beard in Show’, an award which surprisingly and strangely goes to Ruby, but what a fantastically sinister Fagin she played.
Thankfully, Oliver does manage to find some allies, in the bold and forthright Nancy, played by Holly B; and the kindly Mr Brownlow, played by Hassan A. Holly lit up the stage with her confident singing (often supported by the very sweet Bet – played by Kayleigh F) and showed real emotion in her brave confrontations. Hassan’s Mr Brownlow, was understated, fatherly and appropriately gentle, subtly played as it exactly needed to be.
I hope not to give you too many spoilers, (but the book was first published in 1839) but I must warn you of the villain in this piece. Bill Sykes came to life on stage in the most vivid performance of Callum J. His demeanour, tone and swagger made him a true baddie and I must highly commend his ability with stage fighting which is not an easy skill to master.
There are far more performers in this show than I have been able to mention so far, and they deserve no less praise and compliment, From the dancers, the drunkards in the bar, Fagin’s Gang, the orphans; all gave their very best performances and made the night very special. Thank you to you all.
So, Mr’s Pessoll and Ackroyd, I have to ask…Please Sir’s, can we have some more?!
Roving Reporter and Teacher Ms Cliffman
We would like to thank Derby University and Derby Theatre for all their support with the production.