Oliver! by The Uckfield
Theatre Guild, April 11 & 12
Oliver! was the latest production from the very talented Uckfield Theatre Guild, which has just finished its run at the Uckfield Community Technology College.
Lionel Bart wrote the music, the lyrics and the book for Oliver and it is without doubt one of the world’s most famous and most popular shows.
UTG’s director, Emma Creffield, made it a great success with the help of an extremely talented group of local amateur actors made up of 18 adults and 16 children all supported by superb lighting and excellent sound from the orchestra of nine talented musicians, led by John Marsh.
There is no getting away from the fact that this story does not have a happy ending. It shows the 19th century’s poverty, the way that workhouses were, the effects of alcohol and the street life that people of that time had to endure. And, of course, the final scene is a mix of joy that Bill Sykes (Daniel Card) had been taken off the streets but sadness that Nancy (Laura Johnstone) had been killed.
Oliver Twist was played by Louis Edwards – Munro and Gracie Hancock was perfectly cast as the Artful Dodger playing him with just the right cheeky attitude and personality.
There were many performances that need mentioning, not least Robin Creffield as Fagin because to say he looked and sounded the part is an understatement. Nigel Woods in his first stage performance as Mr Sowerberry, the undertaker, was also outstanding with his wit and stage presence, which had the audience laughing especially when the coffin fell on top of him.
Daniel Card’s interpretation of the villain, Bill Sykes, possibly made him the scariest person Uckfield has seen for a long time. Laura Johnstone, as Nancy, played the perfect foil to Sykes’ nasty nature.
The show had many memorable and sometimes amusing moments to lighten the rather dark undertones to the story line. No-one could have failed to be impressed with the opening scene when the pauper children sang ‘Food, glorious food’ as they entered through the audience to the workhouse.
A personal favourite of mine was when Mrs Sowerberry (the undertakers’ wife) fell into the coffin and the stage crew had the task of pulling her out.
Overall, this was another amazing success for this very highly motivated and talented team in their 27th production.
It has just been announced that the Uckfield Theatre Guild will be opening this year’s Uckfield Festival on Friday, July 11, with a specially written production of a Rock Musical.