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Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Friday, 22 October 2010 11:22 UK
Review: Stage Door's Oliver at Felixstowe Spa Pavilion

By Chris Gosling
Resident of Felixstowe

Oliver! by the Stage Door Theatre Company
The Stage Door Theatre Company formed in 1988 in Felixstowe

There aren't many musicals that can claim to still be hugely popular 50 years after their first performance.

But Lionel Bart's 1960 blockbuster Oliver was able to get the audience rocking on their heels by the end its premiere at Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion theatre.

The Stage Door Theatre Company production marked the directorial debut of Julie Lock and Catherine Dixey, who have both been with the group for some years.

The show itself, of course, is pretty well fixed in our minds, but despite a fairly slow start, it came good in the second half and certainly highlighted some outstanding talents who deserved all the applause they received and more besides.

The first part of the show is very much a scene-setting exercise and we met Oliver, played with considerable charm and appeal by Joshua Day.

In fact all the young people involved in the show did a seriously good job.

They were loud, in tune, clearly having a great time and working their socks off.

Later in act one, we met Fagin (played by Stephen Lawrence) and his thieving gang, with the same youngsters transformed into pickpockets.

We were also introduced to Nancy, played and sung excellently by Zoe Ransome, whose performance I thought was one of two exemplary efforts.

The Artful Dodger, played by Danny McCall, was full of confidence, lots of fun and definitely someone who should keep working at his theatre skills.

Fagin in the Stage Door Theatre Company's Oliver!
Fagin was played by Stephen Lawrence in the Felixstowe production

'Pace and enthusiasm'

The show picked up a great deal of pace and enthusiasm in act two.

Zoe Ransome once again went to town in her opening scene and I was very taken by Fagin, who seemed to change up a gear from his act one showing.

Stephen's rendering of Reviewing The Situation was both thoughtful and thought provoking.

The whole of the staging in this part of the show picked up, with whole company numbers coming over strongly.

Oliver's own big song, Who Will Buy, was also very attractively staged and Joshua's and the supporting singers' performances really hit the spot.

One of the musical's most difficult parts has to be the seriously dangerous Bill Sykes, the murderous East End thug.

Richard Rumbellow, a charming and good-humoured individual in everyday life, did his best with the part, but I felt he needed some stronger and more robust direction to bring out the evil nature of this particular and repellent beast.

The musical side of any show like Oliver is a world of its own, and musical director David Bolton did a very fine job of producing a sound that would make any MD proud.

Although it is unusual to pick out individual musicians, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the violin parts in Fagin's songs.

Overall, an excellent night out. If you haven't seen this show for a while, and could do with a good night out and some genuine entertainment that comes from real people with very real talent, get yourself down to the Spa Pavilion.

Oliver! runs Thursday 21-Saturday 23 October 2010. Ring the Felixstowe Spa Pavilion box office on 01394 282126.

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