Rapturous reception for Oliver at An Grianán

A review by Will Burton

Building on the success of Annie last year, the Letterkenny Musical Society has produced another warm and lovable play for the loyal An Grianán audience. I have to admit that I do not have any recollection of reading or watching Oliver Twist before. It is hard to believe I know, given how popular the novel and the much loved musical adaptations are. Even more embarrassing is that I am from Portsmouth, where the author was born.

The production of Oliver Twist at An Grianian was the perfect introduction to the story with great performances by all the actors. The children in particular stood out, and delivered a performance to be proud of as for some it was their stage debut.

Mr Bumble is played by Highland Radio’s very own Donal Kavanagh, and his character’s looming presence is superb on stage. He towers over the children in the workhouse and booms when Oliver asks for more gruel for dinner. The softer side of Mr Bumble is thrilling to watch as his wandering eye is drawn closer and closer to Widow Corney, played by Maria Heekin.

The music was beautiful with renditions of “Food, Glorious Food”, “I’d Do Anything”, “Oohm Pah Pah” and “Who Will Buy?”, which wooed the audience with some of them even singing along.

The characters’ costumes and make-up were very effective. Fagen, the spindly crook and chief pick-pocketing orchestrator, sang with a faux innocent, “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two,” which delighted the audience.  Fagen’s protégé, Bill Sykes, seems to be behind every corner on the stage, thundering and stomping his menacing boots everywhere.

The theatre was full for the performance on Thursday night with people of all ages. Scene after scene was concluded with rapturous rounds of applause and deservedly so.  The musical was produced by the Letterkenny Musical Society for the second time. In 2000 the show was very warmly received and judging by tonight’s performance, the cast can expect the same rave reviews by the public and media alike.

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