Review: Oliver! by the Court Players, Memorial Hall, Rangeworthy
WHEN Rangeworthy Court School head teacher Joanna Shipp decided to start a drama group in the village in 1959, little did she think it would still be going strong 60 years later.
From the beginning, the Court Players have always aimed to produce high-quality performances in a friendly atmosphere.
The group is made up of enthusiasts of mixed ages and abilities, all with a common interest – drama – although over the years pantomimes, thrillers, comedies, costume dramas, farces, musicals, theme evenings, festival plays and open-air productions have all been staged.
As well as the talented actors, the group has some wonderful costumes created by members, as well as imaginative lighting and sound engineers and skilful stage designers: over the years the players have won many group and individual awards.
To celebrate their 60 years at the heart of the village,the Court Players staged a special gala performance of the musical Oliver! at the Memorial Hall, Rangeworthy, on February 23. Starting with bucks fizz and canapés, it was attended by dignitaries including Metro Mayor Tim Bowles, as well as local unsung heroes from the community being recognised for their charitable works.
The cast took us back to the days of Dickensian London, through Lionel Bart’s familiar lyrics and toe tapping tunes, with enough love and care to equal the high standards the Court Players have always strived to achieve over the preceding sixty years, directed by Bryan Quinlan and strongly supported by an efficient production team, with attractive costumes, good musical backing and practical sets constructed.
On stage, Douglas Woodward’s timid Oliver nicely contrasted Alex Bell’s cocky Artful Dodger and David Churchley looked every inch the miserly old Fagin. As hen pecked undertaker Henry Sowerberry, Mark Gregory was truly under the thumb of Sam Palmer as Mrs Sowerberry. Callum Bird as the bullying Noah Claypole and his girlfriend Charlotte (Laura Graham) completed the mayhem amongst the coffins.
Kevin Stephens and Gill Cope lightened the proceedings to a degree with the larger than life characters of Mr Bumble and Widow Corney. Hannah Long, as Nancy, gave us an emotional and heart rendering interpretation of As Long As He Needs Me, signifying her undying love and loyalty to the murderous Bill Sykes, played by Richard Lewis.
The standing ovation by the audience at the end of the show said it all.