After the success of the Production Club’s debut performance of ‘Seussical’ last year, this year’s production of ‘Oliver!’ had a lot to live up to.
Based on the classic English novel ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens this all-time favourite musical transports us back to Victorian England as we follow the adventures, trials and triumphs of the young orphan, Oliver (played by An Dinh), as he attempts to seek his fortune on the streets of London.
We first meet Oliver at the workhouse where he lives a grim existence with the other orphans under the watchful eye of the pompous Mr Bumble (Matthew Grimshaw) and the cold-hearted Widow Corney (Olivia Roman). After offending Mr Bumble by asking for more food he is sold to Mr Sowerberry (Malik Salamatian), the undertaker. However, Oliver fails to find a happy home at the Undertaker’s and after being subjected to cruel teasing and harsh treatment by Mrs Sowerberry (Shibani Shetty), Noah, the undertaker’s assistant (William Shultz) and Charlotte, the maid (Hailey Hornblower), he runs away to London.
In London he meets the charismatic and street wise Artful Dodger (Jessica Battersby) who introduces Oliver to Fagin (Jonathan Brownrigg) and his gang of thieves (Anya De Chakrabarty, Khanh Bui, Jae Wan Joo, Brooke Nuyen, Chloe Brackenbury, Chae Rim Lee, Young Woo Ko, Rey Saitoh, Shubhankar Patki, Steven Grimshaw). For the first time in his life, Oliver experiences warmth and kindness from this motley crew of pick-pockets and he is quickly inducted into the life of a criminal. Oliver also meets the kind and loving Nancy (Ana Putnik) and her friend Bett (Ella Zesiger) who immediately take a shine to the innocent young boy.
Things soon take a turn for the worse, however, when Oliver is caught by police on his first outing as a pick-pocket and he is taken to court. When it is revealed in court that it was not Oliver who had committed the theft, the wealthy victim of the crime, Mr Brownlow (Tyler Carriaga), takes Oliver home to live with him and his caring housekeeper, Mrs Bedwin (Nini Pham), in the hope of offering Oliver a better chance at life. In a strange twist of fate it transpires that Mr Brownlow is Oliver’s maternal grandfather and things begin to look up for Oliver. However, things once again turn bad for Oliver when he is kidnapped by Nancy and Bill (Amir Ramzulhakim), her cruel and violent husband. They return Oliver to Fagin and his gang but Nancy soon has a change of heart as her conscience gets the better of her. She attempts to return Oliver to Mr Brownlow but is thwarted by Bill who forcibly takes Oliver from her. A pursuit ensues until Bill is finally caught by the police and Oliver is once again reunited with his loving grandfather.
This production was indeed an epic undertaking in all sense of the word. With a huge cast of 71 performers, a complicated plot, challenging dramatic themes, rousing music and complex scenery, costumes and props, we definitely had our work cut out for us! But after many months of hard work and dedication from a very talented cast and extremely supportive parents and staff we finally made it… and what a performance it was! As Mr Simon reflected, it was almost unbelievable that this production was performed so well by children between the ages of 7 and 11.
Thanks must of course be given to all the staff at both AP1 and AP2 who contributed to making this big success possible, but special thanks goes to Ms Fran, Ms Victoria, Ms Patricia, Ms Anna Coy and Ms Ruth who were there throughout the whole process supporting the director, Ms Tina.
But, of course, the last thanks must go to our wonderful supporting cast and chorus, without whom we would not have been able to produce a full scale musical. You truly are the unsung heroes of ‘Oliver!’ and it is because of your commitment to the show that the audiences and the teachers who you work with will be coming back next year and asking “Please, sir, can I have some more?
Ms Tina Corrigan, Year 3 Class Teacher