To the Editor,
On Friday, July 8, my wife Janice and I saw Oliver!, indubitably the best theatre production in the Highlands Summer Festival’s 17-year history, period.
From the first few minutes, we were transported to Dickensian London by a play that felt a lot like a Broadway or West End effort (we’ve been to both). Under Scot Denton’s unwavering, “tight” direction, Melissa Stephens’s brilliantly gifted musical direction, and Beth Robertson’s thrilling choreography, the superb cast soared to heretofore unattainable heights.
Speaking of the cast, Oliver, played by Carson Winmill, was just wonderful throughout the entire play in what has to be a challenging role for any actor, especially one so very young. Bravo, Carson! In various parts of this musical, certain players shone. In the first act, the strong performances of Michael Clipperton (Mr. Bumble) and Dianne Winmill (Mrs. Corney) were delightful, as were Tom Regina and Victoria Bingham’s (Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry) contributions. Jordy Schell (The Artful Dodger) was quite scintillating in all three areas of musical theatre: namely acting, singing and most notably, dancing – wow!
As the play progressed, Fagin, Nancy, Bet and Bill Sykes were each in turn brilliantly played by Tim Nicholson, Beth Robertson, Amy Leis and James Frantowski. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been a long-time huge fan of Tim’s incredible talent and, amazingly, he actually outdid himself this time in his stunning depiction of Fagin. Beth and Amy were truly exciting to watch as they playfully made their demanding roles look so very easy. Finally, you’d have to be accused of lying if you said that James’s inspired portrayal of the despicable and vile Bill Sykes didn’t send chills down your spine – he was totally the fellow you just love to hate! As a Cockney might say, “that wur impressive!”
Dr. René Benoit