Oliver!

RICHARD PARR Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

RICHARD PARR

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Enthusiasm, energy and endless young talent were to the fore in a sparkling new production by the acclaimed Norfolk Youth Music Theatre group.

The intimate atmosphere of the city's historic Maddermarket Theatre lent itself admirably to the staging of this show which was a triumph for principals, chorus and orchestra.

In a fast-paced show, the dramatic action never faltered and there were some delightful chorus sequences in which the well-rehearsed youngsters danced and sang their hearts out.

Some scenes, notably the workhouse dining hall, thieves kitchen and the Three Cripples pub, were like moving tableaux of Victorian life.

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Ten-year-old Fraser Davidson gave an excellent performance as the orphan boy, full of wide-eye innocence, who finds himself caught up in the darker side of Victorian London. His main solo number, Where is Love, was full of plaintive emotion.

There were so many highlights on Wednesday's first night but Stephanie Moore gave a remarkable performance of Nancy, the tart with a heart, which belied her 19 years.

Equally impressive was 18-year-old Ben Weston as the fiendish Fagin. Ben worked hard to create everyone's idea of the elderly old rogue.

Harriet Birchall was a delightful Widow Corney and her comic routines with Joe Ringer as Mr Bumble were a hoot, particularly in I Shall Scream.

Another well-drawn comic partner-ship was that of Lawrence Guymer as Mr Sowerbery the undertaker and his wife, a wonderful performance by Rachel Killington.

NYMT founder and Oliver! director and set designer Adrian Connell deserves congratulations for such a high-quality show and for helping to develop the theatrical talents of so many Norfolk youngsters.

t Oliver! continues until Saturday November 4.

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