Theatre review: Oliver! at YMCA, Scarborough

Oliver cast..Picture Richard Ponter 131747e
Oliver cast..Picture Richard Ponter 131747e

For its first show Scarborough Musicals chose a real crowd-pleaser – Lionel Bart’s show is full of songs everyone loves to sing.

Of course, for it to really please the crowd it has to be well done – and from the first note this was excellently executed.

Director Alex Wetherhill’s staging was fast – no time for scene-stealing here – and kept the story of the workhouse orphan moving apace, as a story of adventure should be.

Loosely based on Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist, it tells the story of the eponymous hero who goes to London and falls in with a den of thieves, led by Fagin, is rescued by a benefactor only to be kidnapped by the gang and is redeemed again. The role of Oliver was shared and I saw Nathan Mundey give his all as the lively lad. It was an assured, sure-footed performance. Kathryn Irwin was great as Mrs Sowerberry, Helen Dent as Widow Corney and Paul Buttner as Mr Bumble also gave characterful comic performances.

Josephine Pimm was a knockout in the role of Sowerberry’s daughter Charlotte. She made the most of her short role – and it will be interesting to see her go from this comic cameo to the lead role in the romance Mack and Mabel.

Stand-out performances came from Tim Tubbs who was born to play gangleader Fagin and Chloe Whitehouse, a fresh-faced Nancy who sang her heart out especially in the ballad As long As He Needs Me.

Hit follows hit in the varied score – Food Glorious Food, It’s Your Funeral, I Shall Scream, Consider Yourself, I’d Do Anything, It’s A Fine Life and Be Back Soon. In fact, producers please note, it would make a perfect sing-along night,

If this is a sign of things to come from Scarborough Musicals – then more please.