Review: Oliver, Cromer Pier

Nick Bird as Fagin in Oliver at Cromer pier. Picture: ERIC BRICKLES

Nick Bird as Fagin in Oliver at Cromer pier. Picture: ERIC BRICKLES - Credit: Archant

Oliver!

Claire Reynolds as Nancy in Oliver at Cromer pier. Picture; ERIC BRICKLES

Claire Reynolds as Nancy in Oliver at Cromer pier. Picture; ERIC BRICKLES - Credit: Archant

Cromer pier

The cast of Oliver at Cromer pier. Picture: ERIC BRICKLES

The cast of Oliver at Cromer pier. Picture: ERIC BRICKLES - Credit: Archant

You've got to pick a box office blockbuster (no need for two) to celebrate your centenary year.

But you still have to deliver a show that matches the expectations of eager full house audiences.

And the Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society has done just that to put the icing on its 100th anniversary cake.

Oliver bristles with memorable songs from foot-tapping singalongs to haunting ballads.

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Its plot, mood and dialogue are a mix of Eastenders-style violence and thumbs-in-your braces pearly king knees up. Child slavery, thievery, wife-beating and murder are not the obvious elements of a hit musical - but add in some brilliant characterisation, humour and timeless tunes and you have a winner.

Highlight of the CSODS' version is Nick Bird's Fagin acted and sung every bit as well as Rod Moody's masterful movie version- reaching a pinnacle in the stunning Reviewing the Situation song.

Praise too for Claire Reynolds as Nancy, returning to the company after an eight-year family-raising absence to command the stage with her presence and fine voice best showcased in As Long As He Needs Me - a song about her evil other half Bill Sykes, darkly delivered by Gary Clifton.

But it is the children who are the real show stealers, with cuteness - and confidence beyond their years.

Ten-year-old Joseph Oxtoby charmed as Oliver on opening night undaunted by solos in the spotlight in his first major stage role with William Daniels as a cocky Artful Dodger on opening night but the alternating cast of youngsters are just as good I am told.

The strong cast, marshalled by director Amanda Howell, rose to the big centenary occasion set against a backdrop of superb scenery.

The joy of 'am dram' productions is seeing famous shows which star local people - the 'butcher, baker' and Constantia waiter - who show the talents they have outside their day jobs.

Having reviewed the situation I can confidently predict this infectious show will leave audiences hungry for more during its run until Saturday

Richard Batson

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