Viva Youth ‘Oliver’: ‘This was yet another huge triumph in a long list of amazing shows’ says our critic

Cast of Oliver at Soham (Viva production)

Cast of Oliver at Soham (Viva production) - Credit: Archant

Review of Viva Youth Theatre’s production of ‘Oliver’ at The Brook, Soham on Wednesday March 4.

Danb Schumann

Danb Schumann - Credit: Archant

A stage packed with young people, acting, singing, and dancing is usually challenging to most inspired directors, but for Dan Schumann this was yet another huge triumph in a long list of amazing shows.

Although Dan has an established reputation in the London scene, and he is no stranger to the Edinburgh Fringe, Soham is very fortunate that he remains fully involved in events at The Brook.

His production of ‘Oliver’ was, as expected, superb – and this was on the first night! All the usual characters were there: Oliver (played by Zak Potts) was wonderful, his innocent demeanour a real asset.

Widow Corney (Emily Smith) was the epitome of a screeching harpy, her facial contortions and gestures phenomenally successful, and Becky Bush, who played Nancy, was perfect in her part, her mixed feelings beautifully explored.

Fagin (Joseph Beach) brought the house down with his performance of ‘Reviewing the situation’, and he portrayed the volatility of the character especially well.

Bill Sykes (Charlie Ellerton) was every bit the dark character expected, while Dodger (Jake Stearne) successfully portrayed this colourful, dominant character.

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Mr Bumble (Charlie Gillett), Mrs Sowbery (Samantha Williams), Charlotte (Macey Bennett), Noah Claypole and Dr Grimwig (Charlie O’Connor), Mr Brownlow (Jack Wright), Mrs Bedwin (Molly Gordon), Old Sally (Laura Davies), Bet (Zara Minns) and Charley(Fred Kirk) were also vital contributors to this fantastic production.

Needless to say, the singing was delightful and the choreography (Louise Plummer) was spectacular. The stage actions were so believable that when Bill Sykes got up to his violent tricks and struck Nancy, there was an audible intake of breath in the audience. How dare he!

The music accompaniment was also of the expected high quality with much successful and varied orchestration. Led by Stephen Kenna, the band also featured Melody Bell, Gemma Perry and Beverly Skyring.

Other essential contributors to events were Fagin’s gang, and a number of impressive ensembles.

The show was well supported by a large and enthusiastic team and it was no surprise to learn that it will be performed at the West End on Sunday 8th March at the Shaw Theatre.

We look forward to productions of ‘Abigail’s Party’ in June and ‘Half a Sixpence’ in July.

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