"Please, sir, I want some more” is a line that has an entirely new meaning when you watch a production of ‘Oliver’. You enter the show, expectantly waiting for the iconic line, and once it is over you find yourself repeating those same words not wanting the show to end. That is the magic of the musical and Newstead Wood School undoubtedly managed to produce the same effect. 


‘Oliver’ is a beloved tale, first adapted into a stage musical in 1960, so the students of Newstead were buzzing with anticipation when it was first announced that they would be performing it in January. Since then, its production had been kept under wraps after the cast was assembled but their 5 months of unmistakable collective effort shone on stage during all 3 nights. It was clear that over the months, the cast had formed a close bond as it reflected through their chemistry with each other on stage. Lea Peqini, who stunned as Oliver, played a boy just trying to find someone to depend on in the streets of London, and the way she presented all relationships helped to portray the humanity of the story. Even in scenes where Oliver only had short interactions with characters (like Mr and Mrs Sowberry played by Caz Tweddle and Sofia Kerr), the lines were delivered with such fluidity making the personality of all the characters easy to understand.  

Musicals are an underrated art form as people tend to forget that whilst the actors are singing, they can’t forget to display their emotions, but the cast of ‘Oliver’ had no problem in doing so. 'Food, Glorious Food’ was a striking spectacle, mostly due to the overlapping of the young voices gradually getting louder and by the end you knew you were in for something special. Maro Mafemi, who played Fagin, was the comedic relief the show needed and his wonderful portrayal of the character continued into his solo of ‘Reviewing the Situation’. Nancy’s heart-rendering song about her relationship with Bill Sykes was sung by Niamh O’Connor-Riley and the silence that followed for a few seconds after it had finished spoke volumes. Shalom Ogunwale, who attended Night 2 of the show, said that she had tears in her eyes and “almost forgot that she was watching her own friend”.  
Of course, it’s important to mention a section of the cast of whom without which the musical wouldn’t even be possible. The orchestra was almost constantly playing pieces and sometimes you’d forget until they stopped and you’d acknowledge how much they contribute to the atmosphere of the play.  

What’s important is that none of the musical would’ve worked if you’d taken someone out. From the lighting and sound managers to the stage managers. From the director to the conductor. From a lead role to a member of the ensemble. Together, it all ran like clockwork and it was a delight to see their teamwork and effort translated into their performances on stage.