‘Please sir, I want some more!’
The story behind this year’s Middle School production is a familiar one - young Oliver, after escaping the workhouse, is befriended by the Artful Dodger and subsequently introduced to the criminal underbelly of Victorian London. The story remains true to its Dickensian roots, illuminating the hardships suffered by the working class of the time, yet as a musical, it unfolds as a heart-warming spectacle.
Evoking moody 19th Century London, the set opened up to invite us into a world of characters that were both familiar and yet new, as each of the leads brought their own special touch to their part. Opening to the well known chorus, ‘Food Glorious Food’, delivered with enthusiasm by a ragged band of workhouse orphans, the audience waited to see who would step forward to deliver the catch phrase, ‘Please Sir, I want some more,’ thus taking the lead role of Oliver. This was Year 9 student, Ben Buttle, who went on to tug at the heart strings with his delivery of ‘Where is Love?’
Having stepped over the mark in his request for more, Oliver is sold by a convincingly pompous Mr Bumble. This role was remarkably played by a very petite Ashley Potter (Year 10) who hammed up the male role brilliantly; her costume transforming her to a tubby, middle-aged man! Sold to the Sowerberry’s, we meet the down-trodden funeral director (William Luxton, Year 10) and his domineering wife, played with conviction by Lauren Aspoas (Year 9).
Escaping from the parlour and befriended by the supremely confident Artful Dodger (Luca Heard, Year 10), Oliver is invited to be ‘h’accommodated’ with Fagin and his gang. It is at this point that the show really opened up to reveal its heart. The set for Fagin’s kitchen was sparse, yet a homely riot of colour. Fagin’s gang of pickpockets were full of life and mischief, with their loot for the day strung up on lines across the set for added colour. Year 10 student, Sid Chand stooped and scurried in the miserly role of Fagin, giving us a convincing performance of an old man with dishonest, penny-pinching ways but with maybe just a touch of heart for his young charges. Sid’s superb singing voice, added immeasurably to his performance of this role.
Nancy, played by Year 10 student, Jaymee Brearley, delivered a confident performance with her strong vocals, well able to deal with the contrasts of the upbeat, ‘It’s a Fine Life’ to the raucous ‘Oom Pah Pah’ and heart-rending ‘As Long as he Needs Me’. It was Nancy who bore the brunt of Bill Sike’s abuse. Played by Year 10 student, Braydon Robinson, Sikes was full of the bullying malevolence expected of the role, delivered with enough force to strike terror from the moment his shadow crossed the stage and he laid bare the consequences for anyone who dared use his name in vain.
The chorus was large and delivered their parts with energy with some very fine sequences from our dance students.
From the opening number to the closing chorus, there was no doubt that this team enjoyed every moment of bringing this show to the stage! Solo performances were self-assured and chorus numbers, in particular, a joy.
Talent may abound on the stage but the unseen commitment from those working behind the scenes is equally huge. A small group of Middle School musicians, with adult assistance, provided live accompaniment conducted by Mr Oliver Gimour. Lighting and sound, set design, stage crew, props crew, make-up artists and costume managers are seldom seen and rarely applauded but play an integral part in bringing a show to the stage. With Mr David Sheehan as Director, Mrs Katrina Farquharson as Producer and Miss Cathy Rood taking on the Choreography, it was teamwork and dedication from both the cast and crew that provided the hallmark for success of yet another Saint Kentigern polished performance.
Oliver will be remembered as an outstanding production from a team of outstanding students and staff that drew packed houses and appreciative applause every night.