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posted/updated: 11 Dec 2017 - edit review / upload photos
Lionel Bart
society/company: Trinity Drama Productions (directory)
performance date: 07 Dec 2017
venue: Trinity Concert Hall, Trinity School, Shirley Park, Croydon, Surrey CR9 7AT
reviewer/s: Diana Eccleston (Sardines review)

Lionel Bart's musical, based on the Charles Dickens' novel, has long been a favourite of amateur and school societies due to its highly expandable cast, colourful characters and foot-tapping score.

Here it is given a new lease of life at Croydon's Trinity School under the helm of their new director of productions Mr (Chris) Chambers, who is well known in local circles for his writing and directing talents.

Luckily for him this boys' school now accepts girls into the sixth form, which made casting much easier. Though marshalling a company for some 80-plus and a considerable orchestra (of pupils and staff) must have taken plenty of patience!

But every effort paid off handsomely. There was some vigorous and enthusiastic ensemble work from the workhouse lads/Fagin's gang and some exceptional characterisations among the principal roles.

George Edwards in the title role may have looked tiny but he has a great voice and stage presence. He deserved a huge round of applause for his heart-breaking solo Where is Love? but a fist-night hitch and a misbehaving door at the Sowerberry undertaker's prevented it. I just hope it happened on the following sold-out couple of performances.
And there was no holding back in his well-choreographed fight sequence with Sam Tomlinson's bullying Noah Claypole. They really went for it!

Nicole Bambroffe was a wonderful Nancy, an absolute natural performer with the whole package of looks, voice and acting ability. I wouldn't be surprised to see her on a professional stage one day.

There was no straggly long wig for Benjamin Osland's Fagin, but he captured the character, and his humour, well and was very nimble on his feet.

Also impressive were Tom Pacitti's focussed and sardonic Mr Sowerberry and Tom Foreman's menacing Bill Sikes, though he was scarier when singing My Name than when in conversation. And what a neat idea to have a puppet Bullseye, (well, head and front legs!) operated War Horse style by two of the boys.

Barney Sayburn was a suitably cheeky Artful Dodger, Daniel-Paul Osahon an amusing Mr Bumble and Katarina Simic rightly made Widow Corney the wife he most definitely regretted marrying.

Hardly any negatives: but if I'm going to nit-pick, I think some of the characters should have been wearing shawls or coats and looking cold during the snowy Who Will Buy? sequence.

Otherwise, a thoroughly enjoyable and successful show. Congratulations to each and everyone involved.

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