getreading attended the Thursday night performance of Oliver! and came away impressed with the way we filled the stage and drew a big audience. Read below or visit getreading‘s review by Caroline Cook here.
Tickets are still available – book direct at The Hexagon o118 960 6060.
Reading Operatic Society presents Oliver!
Until Saturday, September 27
The Hexagon is a big stage for amateur groups to fill.
Some struggle to project to the upper circle, some lack the atmosphere of a packed audience and some just don’t have enough bodies on stage to make it feel full.
The Reading Operatic Society had none of those problems last night with their thoroughly entertaining version of Oliver!
The cast of 80 made for an impressive sight on stage, with full cast numbers like Consider Yourself and Who Will Buy? feeling vibrant and lively, with tight and well-performed dance sequences from choreographer Sally-Anne Coleman.
Principal performers were sensational with Tristan Berry, who plays Oliver, a real star in the making. Where Is Love? is always a nerve-wracking moment in Oliver! – can the young actor pull it off? – and Berry sailed through, hitting the high notes and giving real emotion in his performance.
He made a wonderful double-act with Ben Lewis, as the Artful Dodger, with Berry’s crisp upper-class vocals in nice contrast to Lewis’s cheeky chappy persona. Two young Reading talents who we will be seeing more from in the future.
The adult principals were equally impressive with Nichola Morrin a stand-out as a passionate and heart-wrenching Nancy. Her performance of As Long As He Needs Me showcased a beautiful singing voice while she cranked up the energy for up-tempo numbers like Oom-Pah-Pah.
Damian Sollesse as Fagin was also a gem, faithful to Ron Moody’s film version of the character, while Richard Bott played a frightening Bill Sykes, all gruff voiced and flaring temper.
It would have been nice to dwell on Sykes’ final scenes a bit more, the ending felt a little rushed with missed potential for building greater tension.
The Lionel Bart musical is one of the classics, and one which doesn’t get quite as many outings these days as it used to – perhaps a good thing when we’ve all seen Grease and West Side Story one time too many.
Director Matt Whitelock has also managed to make the musical feel fresh, keeping its setting in Victorian England but adding in huge personalities, touches on humour, and clever set pieces to give it a touch of the modern.
Speaking to getreading before the show Matt hinted at some zombies – something which would surely turn the show into parody? But thanks to clever execution of the scene in the Undertaker’s Shop, with a more Tim Burton feel to things than Night of the Living Dead, Reading Operatic Society managed to pull it off.
Andrew Clarke as Mr Sowerberry was particularly amusing in the scene, appearing like a Jim Carey style caricature with hunched back and elastic limbs.
Reading Operatic Society has some real stars in its cast and it’s nice to see a production which isn’t afraid to challenge convention.
What others are saying
“What a great show, well done to everyone involved, my Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And loved the poodles!”
“Loved the show tonight! Congrats to all involved! What a fantastic cast, orchestra, crew, lightingetc! Well done x”
“Wow, fabulous! Well done all of you. Such talent and energy! Orchestra fantastic too! Best wishes for the rest of the run.”
“Amazing show. Much better than what we expected. Infact at times, it was like watching a 3D movie.”
“They was blooody good!”
“Watched the show tonight with friends, it was amazing! I am in awe of you all!
Can’t wait to watch it again.”
“Well done everyone, fantastic show, loved every minute, all that hard work has definitely paid off.”
“Very well done to Matt Whitelock on directing and Sally-Anne Coleman on choreographing a fantastic production of Oliver! this week at the Hexagon. Excellent performances all round, but of course special congratulations to Richard Marlo Bott as Bill Sykes, Anna Jennings as Mrs Sowberry and Stuart John Brookfield. Very atmospheric lighting and clever use of smoke by Kim Hollamby, with special follow-spotting from Louis Martin and well run backstage by David Parsonson. Oh, and I’m guessing Steven Foster probably helped a bit too!”
“I expected the show to be good, even fantastic but I wasn’t expecting awesome! X”
“Fantastic! I had no idea what to expect. What a brilliant show, and totally professional. Such a talented group of people you all are. Not many shows would have such a large children’s cast, nor the animals! You did, and they were perfect, as were the adults. I can’t wait to see it again tomorrow.”