Earlier tonight saw the premier of the 2016 production from The Millennium Forum Youth Theatre Group in Derry. The ninth youth musical is none other than the infamous ‘Oliver’.
The group have said: We aim to combine inclusivity and excellence in a full scale summer production for young people. With a cast from all over the North West, the youth musical is a free platform for local talent as well as a stepping stone towards further development in the theatre. The young people involved have trained and rehearsed for over a month. Some of these youth are regulars on the stage having been involved in many of our productions over the years; while some are taking to the stage for the very first time. All of them have enjoyed their experience, over the last month, availing of the mentorship of professional theatre practitioners, for free, as part of the Millennium Forum’s continuing Youth Programme.
Our world is rather gloomy and rife with hate at the present time, but tonight all that was forgotten. A ‘small pleasure’ was indeed enjoyed by all at tonight’s performance. As Una Morrison, Nancy, sang ‘small pleasures, small pleasures/who would deny us these?’, we really were allowed to forget the bloodshed that is tormenting the world today.
Oliver himself is living in harsh conditions and being encouraged into a life of crime. He’s threatened by an East End villan, witnesses a murder, and yet provides us with a truly uplifting experience. When the stage delves into the ‘Food Glorious Food’ ensemble, we know there is no such thing in those dishes and yet we couldn’t help but tap and sing along in the audience. We were continually inspired throughout tonights performance.
The fantastic Robert Kelly excelled in his role as Bill Sykes. Lucas Levy stole it for me as Fagin. The Artful Dodger, Malachy Kitson, was superb. It’s unfair to single out any one person from the stage tonight. They all excelled in their role.
However one cannot take it away from the wonderful performance and voice of Sioda McKay, Oliver. Cute, talented, and at all times delightful, he really did own the Derry stage earlier.
Fagin and those around him deny themselves small pleasures, and only believe that ‘in this world, one thing counts: in the bank, large amounts.’ I feel it’s important in the modern day that we must surely side with Nancy in that it really is, ‘A pretty fine life’. A positive stance must always be taken.
We learn from Oliver that ‘good really does win in the end’. We learn to be positive and honest at our front. Some people can cause so much pain in our life but that does not mean we should lose faith in humanity. Humanity consists of good-hearted people in majority: few evil can’t make it malicious and dirty. When Mr. Brownlow thought of taking Oliver out of the evil world, all evil couldn’t harm him at all, and he did it. Therefore we must be positive.
A pretty fine production this surely is. A pretty fine local production that could easily be transported to the West End. A pretty fine production that allowed us, the audience, to forget about the trouble and strife that is seeping through our world and just enjoy a couple of hours of sheer entertainment at a very professional level.
I’m totally blown away tonight in that Derry’s Millennium Forum can produce a show with local youth of this calibre. The only downside of tonight was that the Derry audience failed to give this exceptional cast a standing ovation. Because they deserved it. To say it was a ‘smash hit’ show is an understatement. This was musical brilliance at its best. Huge well done one and all.
Oliver runs at Derry’s Millennium Forum until Saturday night, 30th July. Go along and see: you really won’t be disappointed.