PUBLISHED 02 February 2022
Four packed houses and four standing ovations are a testament to the spirit, commitment and quality of the 62 strong cast from AKS, Lytham.
Oliver is demanding for a school production with Fagin, Nancy and Bill Sikes, all notably adult adults, central to the plot. Confident first-class performances here by Oliver Akers, Miranda Addy and Archie Sanderson, totally inhabiting their roles, provide a rock-solid platform for the cast to build on.
Fagin is played as an obsessive but likeable eccentric, Sikes as a strident and malevolent thug – a deliberate contrast at the heart of the production. Miranda Addy’s ability to sing tunefully and effortlessly in both the ballads and the contrasting chorus numbers brings both warmth and a heart-tugging vulnerability to her character.
Henry Clarkson’s first entrance as Oliver stills and silences the audience, as he produces a poignant “Where is Love?”, with a clear and powerful treble voice and superb variation of pace. He is a proper little lad, not merely cute, throughout his five star performance. Harriet Akers is a suitably and splendidly hyperactive Artful Dodger, in-yer-face, quick-witted… and what a singer!
The show is visually spectacular, as producer Martha Worthington and Niamh Crean conjure up a colourful riot of movement and vitality for all Lionel Bart’s catchy ensemble numbers, particularly Consider Yourself, Ooom Pah Pah and Be Back Soon.
All the other principals seize their opportunity, with both Noah Morris and Alex Winter - an expressive Mr. Sowerby in That’s Your Funeral, and a pure-voiced Bet - especially catching the eye and ear.
Musical director Adam Brown and his nine-piece band provide sympathetic intros and rousing finales to all the songs, whilst sound and lighting are precise and imaginative. The impressive set is darkly foreboding , but perhaps the chorus could do with more grime and scruffiness to match.
The cast of 2022 walk in the footsteps of the school’s musical tradition encompassing Gilbert and Sullivan, West Side Story and Cabaret through to High School Musical and The Addams Family. This shining Oliver will also long be remembered.
Toby Stirling, Blackpool Gazette, 1st February, 2022