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Oliver! by Hills Youth Theatre - Review

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by Nathaniel Mason (subscribe)
Adelaide event photographer and writer, discovering, capturing and sharing the things that make SA a great place as a photographer, explorer and family.
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Consider yourself lucky to pick a pocket or two with Oliver
You'll consider yourself lucky to see one of the most popular musicals of the last 50 years, as it energetically marches and Oom Pah Pah's on the Stirling stage this January in the Hills Youth Theatre's performance of Oliver!

Written by Lionel Bart, based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Oliver! Is a story of a lonely orphan whose courage in asking 'for more' grabs him by the ear and leads him on a journey of discovery, society, deceit and hope. The Hills Youth Theatre (HYT) presentation of the story orchestrates the large and talented young cast of HYT students into a highly entertaining production and renditions of songs you'll find yourself singing along to like Food, Glorious Food, Oom Pah Pah and, of course, Oliver!.

hills youth theatre adelaide stirling oliver musical
Oliver!, presented by the Hills Youth Theatre

Striking from the moment the house lights dim, the stage of the historic Stirling Institute takes you back to the workhouse where an army of orphans march, commandingly through the theatre to open the show in that iconic scene, adorned in rags, gruel bowls in hand. Played by Tom Grosser, the audience meets an endearing Oliver who delivers an excellent performance throughout and a balance of voice, character and 'that melancholy face'. Mr Bumble and Widow Corney (Georgina Clough and Imogen Deller-Evans respectively) are an amusing duo of personalities in their awkward tryst who set Oliver on his journey.

Zoe Hilton is a hoot as Mrs Sowerberry in her unfortunate (though deserved) mishaps with Oliver, accompanying a suitably staunch William Armfield as Mr Sowerberry, the undertaker and their rendition of That's your funeral. Escaping the malarkey and on the run, Oliver meets the Artful Dodger, played by Serenna Williams and soon finds himself being inducted into the boys' lair with the soft spoken criminal Fagin, played by Chloe Zodrow. Williams is a terrifically lively Dodger with a voice to boot and perfect companion to Zodrow's hilariously aloof Fagin. Scenes in Fagin's lair are a highlight with a strong and lively chorus, engaging tableaus and an excellent blend of characters between Oliver, Dodger, Fagin and chorus enthusiastically reminding audiences You've to Pick a Pocket or Two.

A rousing chorus of Oom Pah Pah opens Act II led by Carina Crowhurst as Bet and Nancy, played by Matilda Hilton who soon after delivers the crowd favourite number with a strong and alluring delivery of As Long as He Needs Me. Ben Krieg brings appropriate contract and devious villainy playing the dark Bill Sykes against Hilton's resilient Nancy. The highs and lows of Oliver's journey continue as his fortunes rise with the kind Mr. Brownlow (Raife Gehren) and gentle Mrs. Bedwin (Nikhita Lanyon) before spiraling back into the sinister side and around again and another highly entertaining number from Zodrow as Fagin with Reviewing the Situation.

Director Judy Sampson and assistant director Di Mason have done a great job with choreographer Nicole Moore in bringing the large ensemble together with effective ensemble moves and a tremendous chorus atmosphere. The cleverly designed set by Judy Sampson and Jon McKay clips, flips and rolls elements to seamlessly transition between scenes and situations.

hills youth theatre adelaide stirling oliver musical
Oliver!, presented by the Hills Youth Theatre

The Hills Youth Theatre is a community based non-profit organisation that provides quality drama education and performance opportunities to children aged from 5 years through to young adult, in the Stirling and surrounding hills area. Commencing in 1986, it remains a community based non-profit organisation that provides quality drama education and performance opportunities to students aged from 5 to 25, in the Stirling and surrounding hills areas. Weekly classes and three performances a year are run in the theatre under skilled local tutors. The aim of classes is to provide a fun approach to dramatic art through practical experience, that is, drama games and other drama skills. Many former students would be able to fondly reminisce of their time at HYT and attest to the skills, value and experience learnt through drama tuition and performance.

Oliver! Is a timeless classic with songs that you can't help humming along to with plenty of highlights and outstanding youth performances. There are still limited seats left to see performances at the Stirling Community Theatre, 7 Avenue Road, Stirling on:

Wednesday, 11 January at 2.00pm
Thursday, 12 January at 10:30am
Friday 13, January at 10:30am
Saturday, 14 January at 2.00pm
Sunday, 15 January at 2.00pm

Kids are encouraged to come dressed as their favourite storybook character for a walk on stage!

Adults $18, Child/concession $15, Family $60 (2 adults, 2 children). To see more current show details or to purchase tickets visit:
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Why? A timeless classic with songs that you can't help humming along
When: January 10-15, 2017
Where: Stirling Community Theatre, 7 Avenue Road, Stirling
Cost: $18 Adults, $15 Children, $60 Family
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