Ensemble Theatre Company’s all new production of Oliver! at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre portrays child-labour, abduction, thieving and murder –unlikely subjects for a family musical.
However, the well-loved story of the little orphan captures the heart nevertheless.
Little Oliver (Andrew Dawson/Thomas Hulme) lurches cruelly from workhouse to undertakers, escaping finally into the dubious hands of Fagin (Andy Vitolo) and Bill Sykes (Jordan Atkinson).
He is left with only tragic Nancy (Joely Emms/Chloe Haley/Rebecca Eastham) and her sidekick, Bet (Antonia Busby), fighting his corner.
I’d Do Anything and Oom Pah Pah dilute the darkness of the piece somewhat, whereas pathos and violence mingle in a constant undercurrent of tension.
Particularly pleasing is Who Will Buy? with some elegant singing in the quartet which is further enhanced when the ensemble join in.
In fact, it is the chorus which carries the show in this ambitious production and they are a delight to watch.
There are some amusing moments during the tragic story, notably the moment Old Sally (Rachel Hayes) dies and the excellent comic performance of Widow Corney (Rebecca Pollard) throughout.
The principal characters took a while to warm up but by the second act they found their feet and Fagin’s Reviewing the Situation illustrates Andy Vitolo’s versatility and experience as a performer and artistic director.
The excellent orchestra under the direction of George King were a delight to listen to and left us wanting more.
The show runs until Saturday.
The Grand Theatre