Burtonwood AMADS production of Oliver was a total sell out.

A tremendous success, Burtonwood AMADS picked up 2 Noda Nominations:


Daniel Watt - Best Supporting Male in a Youth Musical (Oliver);

Jess Ratcliffe - Best Female Youth Performer in an Adult Production (Dodger)





Tonight, I had the pleasure to meet Burtonwood AMDS for their annual musical production of Oliver.  By now, we all know (and love) the story by Lionel Bart who tells the story of the young Orphan and his journey from pickpocketing to living in luxury with his maternal grandfather Mr Brownlow.  This version of Oliver was set traditionally, and the church hall setting added to the overall traditional feel.


The shows director (and choreographer) was Linda Cole.  Linda’s clever direction enabled scene changes to be minimalised behind the front cloth.  All actors were secure in their direction and storytelling, including the great group of children.  I liked how all cast, including chorus members had individual characters and I could see that a lot of work has gone into creating 3d characters.  This show was set traditionally, and the set, costumes and make-up allowed the audience to be transported back into the era.  The choreography was minimal but appropriate for the era and the rhythms of the songs.  I was particularly impressed at the young actors who were clearly well directed.  At no point did I see any nerves or insecurity about direction or choreography.  A few of the older female actors were wearing their own jewellery when they were playing poor characters and one girl had a hair bobble on her wrist – both of which distracted slightly from the overall continuity of the piece.  I doubt any of the audience, apart from myself, noticed this.


I’ll be honest and say that, because of the size of the venue, I was not expecting the set to be as good as it was.  The backdrops were very well created and painted, and I was very impressed.  It helped establish location and was visually very good.  A special mention has to go to the set design and construction team (Brian Maffit & Christine Irwin) – Well done!


Costumes and props were generally great.  I particularly loved the costumes for Mr Bumble and Widow Corney.  As they appear at the beginning of the show, they really helped set the tone for the whole evening.  The only costume piece that I really had a problem with were the shoes for Noah Claypole.  They were clearly trainers with black gaffa tape stuck on and were quite distracting.  I liked how the costumes and props were used to enhance the choreography, especially in ‘I’d Do Anything’.  The parasols were very effective – well done!


Lighting and Sound was good.  I was pleasantly surprised at how good the sound was in that space.  I could hear all actors and they were well lit throughout.


The pianist was Sid Houghton.  I have never been to a show before that only had one instrument.  I must say, because of the venue and how intimate the whole thing was – it didn’t really need any other instruments.  It helped create a nice acoustic feel.


Oliver Twist was played by Daniel Watts.  Daniel was suitably sweet and demure and well-cast in the role.  He sang beautifully throughout and a highlight was his rendition of ‘Where Is Love’ – which was beautiful!  Daniel had a lot of lines to learn and a lot of direction, but he seemed totally at ease.


Mr Bumble was played by Martin Dowler.  I could see that Martin was trying very hard to portray this role, but I felt that he was too nice and too comedic instead of being the big, scary brute of a man who is stuck in his ways.  Saying that, I really enjoyed Martin’s performance during ‘I Shall Scream’.


Widow Corney was brilliantly played by Lavinia Lunt.  I loved that Lavinia used her own accent.  I have never seen this character being played with a Liverpudlian accent, but it totally works!  Lavinia played the role of the matriarch very well.  As I mentioned above, I really enjoyed ‘I Shall Scream’.


Noah Claypole and Charlotte were played by George Goddard and Megan Steven.  Both looked the part and had a nice rapport with each other.  George played a number of roles and had very good stage presence.


Mr & Mrs Sowerberry were played by John Hickey and Mary Anne Gleeson.  I thought that Mary Anne brought a great energy and stage presence.  She had great projections and characterisation.  For me, John was a little understated as Mr Sowerberry.  This part is normally hilarious and makes the audience roar with laughter.  Tonight’s audience certainly enjoyed John’s performance, but I thought that there was a lot more scope with the humour.


The Artful Dodger was brilliantly played by Jess Ratcliffe.  I really enjoyed Jess’ performance and thought that she had good characterisation.  She also had a great energy and a lovely singing voice as well.  Jess told the story well and looked very comfortable in the role – well done Jess!


Fagin was played by Rob Minjoot.  Rob brought a Jewish/Shylock feel to the character and there was a distinct character there which was captivating.  At times, Rob looked a little nervous and unsure but sometimes this added to the tension during the scenes.  I loved Rob’s rendition of ‘Reviewing The Situation’, even though he forgot his lines at one point.  I still found it captivating to watch.


Nancy was played by Leigh Nash and did very well in the role.  I was a little disappointed with her version of ‘As Long As He Needs Me because of the musical direction issues.  Leigh was doing well to convey the story of the song and I was willing her on, but she was a little trapped into rushing the song which was played far too quickly.  Despite this, Leigh did well to play the battered and bruised partner of Bill.


Bill Sykes was played greatly by Dave Bolitho.  I always judge a performance of Bill on how scared I am of the character, and I was certainly frightened of Dave!  He had great vocal ability and projection and came on stage every time with a great energy!  He was very well cast in the role.


There are far too many other characters for me to mention in this review but please know that your performance, however small your part was, didn’t go amiss.  Burtonwood AMDS have a loyal following and it’s not hard to see why.  There was a lot of love in that church hall and a lot of support for this society.  With children such as these, the future looks bright for Burtonwood AMDS.  Overall, this was a very pleasing production of Oliver.  I really enjoyed the energy, enthusiasm and commitment to producing a good show.  I even loved Bullseye the Dog!  What a fabulous part that Harry the dog played!  Huge congratulations to Burtonwood AMDS and I sincerely thank you for your amazing hospitality.  I wish you all the very best for your next production and look forward to returning for panto!  Oh yes I do!