I was invited Press Night to see this years Wyvern Theatre Summer Youth Project production of the Charles Dickens classic musical…Oliver
The Summer Youth Project is a youth project based Swindon. During the summer holidays, The Wyvern Theatre gives up to 200 youngsters aged 9-21 the chance for an experience of working in a professional theatre. Not only for the chance of being on stage in front of the audience, but also providing a youth technical team and many are behind the scenes working on the production.
The most amazing fact about productions from the Summer Youth Project is the whole project is executed in just two weeks…..yes I haven’t made a typo, the whole annual Summer Youth Project family produce a spectacular production in just under a fortnight, this is from the start of the project to the finished five performances. In able to achieve the mammoth task of a full scale musical in an unbelievable amount of time, the Summer Youth Project are provided with a highly skilled creative team to assist and guide the team.
Wyvern Theatre’s Theatre Director Derek Aldridge gave a speech before the show to us in the pre-show hospitality room about the project and the Wyvern Foundation. Derek stated about the hard work gone into the performance and I like the fact even the staff at The Wyvern are all so proud of the cast on and off stage. Everyone across the board was getting involved in the excitement, we even were given smudges upon arrival which Josie thought was brilliant.
Consider Yourself One Of Us!
The Summer Youth Project have produced many productions over the past 24 years, and this year was the turn of the classic Oliver directed by Maggie Rawlinson. I used to love the film Oliver, and for some reason is one film we haven’t got round to watching as a family. Watching the production made me remember how much I loved the film. I brought Josie-Ann along to watch this performance of Oliver, Josie loves films, musicals and theatre so she was my perfect companion for this show.
Upon taking our seats at The Wyvern Theatre, straight away the set looked outstanding. I wasn’t expecting a fully designed set to the level this was. Straight away you feel like you are watching a professional production. As the lights drop and the stage lighting commences, suddenly swarms of youngsters started appearing using the aisles and stage and all singing beautifully. I loved how the production used all areas of the theatre. This means the large Summer Youth Project can show off each person, even the performers who haven’t got principle roles were still all given their moments to shine. I thought this was a lovely effect and really shows everyone gets their opportunity to be on the stage.
The whole set worked all the way through the production, slightly changing depending on the current scene in play. Each set change was swiftly changed and again all looked professional. from the high numbers from the start of the production appearing and all in the correct places, each person knowing exactly their position and the delivery of the first song I could now get out of my head all of this has been done in under two weeks.
Casting was indeed superbly chosen. The performers who was chosen to star for the principles roles were perfect at their roles. Oliver (Cory White) was uncanny to Oliver in the film, and was perfectly portrayed. All of the roles were so outstanding and seriously I would struggle to pick out performers that shone as each and every performer put in over 100% into their roles and each performer was simply outstanding. Nancy (Rhea Thorpe) was excellent with the accent, her singing was perfect. The way Rhea brought the character to life was superb along with her sidekick Bet (Imogen Timms). One character that I disliked in the film but absolutely loved on the Summer Youth Project performance was Mr Bumble (Toby Kearney), he was brilliantly showcased and I much preferred the way Toby portrayed the character.
One of the most known characters, The Artful Dodger (Michael Kerr) again was just like the film showcasing the likeable cheeky charm of the lovable character. One character that I did think I wonder how they portray was Fagin (Archie Fisher). Archie was actually nothing short of amazing. The way he performed and executed the character, showing the style of Fagin was out of this world. Watching Archie perform you totally forgot he is only a 16 year old lad, you completely get drawn in to believing he is actually Fagin. The way Archie portrayed his character was unbelievable, the solo song Archie performance of ‘Rewriting The Situation’ was amazing, not just because of the singing but also the acting of the musical number.
I don’t know any of the cast personally, but you can’t help feeling so proud of them all watching the performance. Each performer shone in their own right. The high quality performances the performers brought to the stage shows with the dedication and commitment they have shown with the incredible time of producing Oliver that the cast of the Summer Youth Project are destined for amazing careers. I must also state again, even the technical side was flawless and the backstage crew get easily forgotten about, but you can see how much work they also have put in to the show.
The performance was so high quality that you honestly felt like you was watching a West End production. One of the many highlights watching the production was how much the enjoyment shone through the performers. Each member of the Summer Youth Project was in there element performing. The big musical numbers was one of my personal favourites throughout the performance. The flawless choreography and musical numbers were spectacular and of West End quality. I absolutely loved after the outstanding finale performance of ‘Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, I’d Do Anything’ (Reprise) the audience applauded and the cast received standing ovations for their extraordinary performance. The part I noticed is how much all of the cast members faces shown at this moment. Each and every performers faces were beaming which I am sure this makes the extreme hard work totally worth it. They all also look like they have made some great friends which is another bonus from attending the project.
Thank you to the Wyvern Theatre for inviting us and a huge thank you to the Summer Youth Project for a spectacular performance. If you would like to find out more about the Summer Youth Project then click here for details. Josie was absolutely blown away with the show (and turned 9 this week) is desperate to join the project in 2019 for their performance of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. At the time of writing this the last show of Oliver is tonight, but you can buy tickets online at Swindon Wyvern Theatre for each of the performances the Summer Youth Project show.
See the lastest shows on at The Wyvern Theatre here.