Monday, 18 January 2010

The Saga Of Oliver Twist

Over Christmas, can you believe it, I didn't go to the theatre once?!?!?! One of my many new years resolutions (and there were many... trust me) was to cut back the number of theatre trips I make in 2010 having visited 71 shows last year! Either way it was coming up to mid January and I needed a theatre fix. The final show of 2009 for me was Thriller Live on new years eve. I guess if you are a huge Michael Jackson fan it would be a great show. As I am not, I didn't rate it much above average. All I had to do now was decide what would be my first show of 2010. Now yes I know Billy would be the logical choice, but I fancied something different...

Sometimes when you see a child actor, you just know they will be a huge star in the future. I had this feeling about Fox Jackson-Keen the first time I saw him perform in Billy, a feeling I maintain to this very day. I must admit, for me this rarely happens, in fact to date theres been only a handful of young actors who have made a lasting impression on me. Well you can add another to that list, his name is Jacques Miche and is currently in the role of the Artful Dodger in the West End production of Oliver!

So what makes Jacques so good at what he does? Well my drama teachers have all said the same thing time and time over, you have to be natural and believable within the part you play. Jacques is just this. You never suspect that he is acting, because he just fits into the role so perfectly. Whilst he is on stage, every move, every expression and every word is played out in just the way you would expect the Artful Dodger to do it. He is lively and energetic and his choreography has been mastered to the highest possible standards. There is something that surprises me even more however... I have just learned he is one of the newest additions to the show. This leads me to think, if this is what he is like after just a few shows, can you imagine how good he will be in the coming months?

Jacques really stole the show for me, which was a good thing, as honestly I do not feel Griff Rhys Jones is really the right guy to be playing Fagin. Previously I saw Rowan Atkinson in the role, who always depicted Fagin as a little more frail than I would have expected, but this aside he was good. Hell he even managed to bring a bit of Mr Bean into the stage show! But as for Griff Rhys Jones...I just feel that he lacks the personality to be in a lead role in such an iconic West End show. Don't get me wrong here, he wasn't terrible, just very average. But for a show as big as this, is average really good enough?

Playing the role of Oliver was a young lad by the name of Ethan Smith who frankly has an amazing singing voice. Probably one of the best I have heard to date! Every note was spot on, and he can sing with such passion. I think at times his inexperience shone through on the acting front, and he maybe seemed a bit uncomfortable on such a large stage. But you know what this kid is eleven and has all the time in the world to refine his performance. I think as his confidence grows, so will his performance, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on in the coming months. But my fingers are crossed for Ethan as he is certainly a talented individual.

It's not Oliver! until Jodie Prenger has been mentioned. Last time I saw the show she was not performing, I guess I was a little gutted, but thankful at the same time. After all I got to see Rowan Atkinson perform just days prior to him leaving the show. Jodie Prenger has always impressed me vocally and she lived up to all expectations tonight. Having completed just over a year in the show, she is set to move on in March, being replaced by Kerry Ellis who made her name in Wicked and We Will Rock You. I think Kerry will give Jodie a run for her money when she steps into Nancy's shoes, but for now Jodie is holding up the fort in such style. It will be a shame to see her move on, after delivering such a powerful performance.

Though as I said in the opening of this review. The night belongs to Jacques Miche who can stand tall, knowing that he outperformed everyone on the stage that evening, and yes that even includes Jodie Prenger! I really hope he keeps working at a career in theatre, because there are few people that can steel a show in such a fashion. I've said it before in reviews, you don't need to be in the staring role to steel the show. Just take what you have in front of you and shine... thats exactly what Jacques has done, and thats why I reckon you will see a lot more of him in years to come. If you get to see him, you will know exactly what I mean!