Review: Oliver!, The Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, September 1
PUBLISHED: 13:36 02 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:36 02 September 2018
CHARLIE KETCHEN PHOTOGRAPHY
Cards on the table, Oliver is my second least favourite musical ever; but if anybody could convert me it’s John Hales, who directed the best version of Little Shop of Horrors I’ve seen.
It was the first collaboration between the Marina and The Seagull theatres with the cast and backstage crew made up of members of the Seagull Rep, the Lowestoft Players and many other community groups. For some, it was their first show while others have been performing for more than 50 years.
That said, it came together pretty well. Lionel Bart’s musical was a smart choice first time out. Everybody knows it and there are, admittedly, some cracking numbers.
Things started strongly, with a rollicking version of Food Glorious Food by the ensemble. Oom-Pah-Pah and As Long as He Needs Me, both driven by the excellent Michelle Long as Nancy, also stood out.
I liked the darker and more risque tones. I also liked how immersive the production was, with the cast making great use of the space. I’d have liked to have seen the orchestra, front and centre, in costume too.
The cast clearly had fun, which spread to the audience who gave them not one but two standing ovations. I remain sadly unswayed but heard many people humming their favourite songs on the way out, clearly wanting more.
The production was pert of Making Waves Together, a project led by Great Yarmouth Borough Council and Waveney District Council and funded by the Great Places Scheme. The idea is communities and organisations work together to boost the cultural offering and drive cultural re-imagination as a way of supporting success in the seaside towns. The show also supported Lowestoft Food Bank, a very worthy cause.
Hopefully this will be an annual team-up and I look forward to next year, but please not Annie.