The musicals just keep rolling through Perth – this weekend ICW Productions opened their season of Oliver! It was the perfect opportunity to take my son Matthew to his first musical. We finished reading Oliver Twist recently and Dickens’ story of dark dirty London and the little boy who wanted more has captured his imagination.

ICW Productions (founded by Ian Westrip) aims to provide work for WAAPA graduates and bring high quality productions to the community. Oliver opened on Saturday night  at the performing arts centre at St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls and will run until the 27th August.

We couldn’t make the matinee show so I braved a late night with my five year old and went on opening night. The thrill of being dressed up and out late, the sparkling foyer lights of the beautiful theatre, the folding chairs and the chocolate at interval were all part of the experience. And of course the music and dance worked their magic.

Westrip’s daughter Charlotte made her directorial debut and her love for Oliver! was tangible. The story unfolded clearly and she allowed the personalities of her cast to flourish.

Lukas Steinwandel (Oliver)

On Saturday night Oliver was sung by the sweet-voiced Lukas Steinwandel (star of The Snowman with Perth Symphony Orchestra last year). The Artful Dodger was sung by Jacob Miles who seems a confident stage animal and was well cast his wide grin and mischievous energy. The two boys were supported by a motley gang of orphans/street urchins who moved and sung with strong-voiced enthusiasm.

Phoebe Jackson (Nancy) and Jacob Miles (Dodger)

The adult cast included WAAPA graduate Phoebe Jackson who played a fiery, big-hearted Nancy with a well-rounded voice. Her rollicking rendition of Oom Pah Pah (wittily choreographed by by Lauchlan Edward Bain) was Matthew’s laugh-out-loud moment. Her nasty boyfriend Bill Sikes was sung by an impressively menacing Tim Campbell who epitomised evil so effectively that his eventual demise was the talking point of the show for Matthew.

Fagin was sung with gentle humour by Jay Walsh, although the liberties he took with Reviewing the Situation threw the pit orchestra (conducted by Ian Westrip) into occasional disarray.  Mr Brownlow was performed by Ron Macqueen with the stateliness of Ian McKellen (Gandalf). Dean Misdale was a larger than life and slightly camp (not sure why?) Mr Bumble.

The sound operation (Alex Taubaland) and lighting (Chris Hastie) were the weakest link on opening night, but the glitches will iron out as the production team settles in the venue.

I’m grateful we have semi-professional companies like ICW to provide a platform for our talent and magical memories for a mum and her son.