Review: Oliver! at Curve, Leicester
PART of the skill of a good director is casting; finding the perfect actor to get to the heart of a role.
But great directors can hone raw talent and get the absolute best from a performer regardless of varying levels of ability and experience.
So it’s all credit to Curve’s Paul Kerryson who has worked with local performers to create an Oliver! with heart, pace and polish.
Following last year’s sellout West Side Story, this year the run has been extended and principal roles have been split between two or three people who perform on alternate nights.
Press night saw Daniel Cornish as an appealing Oliver, Cameron Vear’s cheeky Dodger, Mary-Jean Caldwell’s feisty Nancy and Sean Dodds’ harsh Bill Sikes (complete with showstealer Boston as his dog Bullseye), all working well together to tell the classic Dickens’ tale with conviction.
Special mention too for Adam Orgrodzinski for a miserly yet humorous Fagin, bringing some necessary light to an often dark story and with great diction to get through his verbally-complex songs.
From the well-drilled children of the workhouse to the sparky boys of Fagin’s gang, from the dance sections of the production numbers to the intricate timing of the soloists in Who Will Buy?, the whole company gave it concentration, confidence and commitment.
Their efforts were fully-supported by the professionals – Lionel Bart’s score received the full treatment under Ben Atkinson’s 13-piece orchestra and Ben Harrison’s superb sound design, while Ellyn Philips’ choreography played to the company’s strengths. Glorious lighting too from Rob Halliday, particularly towards the end of act two when the vast Curve depth creates pure visual magic.
What’s clear is that these local performers have clearly acknowledged the massive opportunity offered them – working with professional technicians and creatives of such expertise – and yet not only risen to the challenge but actively embraced it.
It’s the kind of show which begins to blur the boundaries between amateur and professional. At a time when increasing numbers of fringe shows are being performed by unpaid “professional” (ie: trained) actors, it’s a joy to see so much passion and talent being displayed by members of the local community. Lucky Leicester!