Wanganui Collegiate's production of the musical Oliver was a triumph over adversity on Saturday night.

The cast and crew overcame a broken microphone, props and a curtain that refused to open after intermission to deliver a fine show.

The production began with Oliver's tragic mother Agnes (Marie-Louise Reichelt) stumbling across the stage to give birth before dying in the poor house.

Joshua Willis was well cast as sad waif Oliver, asking for more gruel and incurring the wrath of the heartless Mr Bumble (Jonathon De Jongh).


His understated performance served to highlight the greed and cruelty of the adult characters and his slightly off-key rendition of Where is Love? served to make the song especially poignant.

Saul Reynolds played a delightful Artful Dodger and Jennifer Gregg and Gail Evans are to be congratulated for the dodger's costume of pin-striped tuxedo and indeed all the costumes were fabulous.

Convincing make up was provided by UCOL Whanganui hair and beauty students.

Nancy, played by Madelyne Slater-Carter, was hard to hear due to microphone problems in the early part of the production but her fine voice was audible when she sang As Long As He Needs Me and there were sighs of appreciation from the audience.

Dominic Clark's Bill Sykes was so convincingly nasty, I almost feared bumping into him outside the auditorium afterwards - a villainous villain if ever there was one.
Although he played it so well, I would have liked to have seen a tender moment or two between him and Nancy.

It was hard to believe she could sing a song of such devotion about a man so utterly devoid of charm.

By contrast, Rory Abbis as Fagin was as charming as could be, maintaining a convincing cockney accent in dialogue and singing throughout.

Charles Dickens always managed to inject a bit of humour into his tales and Rosie Steuart-Muirhead made her characterisation of Widow Corney very funny with the aid of a circular bustle and her amusing interactions with De Jongh who was also very comical.

Director Jennifer Gregg can feel very proud of all the cast, crew and staff as well as her family members who helped out with set design.

Musical director, Richard Ellsworth conducted the ensemble, made up of students and accomplished Whanganui musicians who all played beautifully throughout.