OK, m’lud, I’ll come clean. When I went to the Pomegranate for Peak Youth’s production of Olivia!, I expected the obvious: Oliver!, slightly reworked with a girl in the title role.
The lesson I learned was, never expect the obvious.
It did begin in the orphanage from hell, though the owner (Emma Metcalfe) was more Miss Hannigan than Mr Bumble; and there was a rebellious runaway called, yes, Olivia (Eleanor King.) But there the resemblance ended.
Well, not quite. Fagin and the Artful Dodger did turn up, played by Oliver Favell and Philip Jacques: a great comic double act, and Philip has a future as a Gilbert & Sullivan patter man.
Ebenezer Scrooge, Sherlock Holmes and George Bernard Shaw popped up briefly as well; and best of all was Rowanne Sumner as a sparky and tuneful Eliza Dolittle who even had a stab at a cockney accent.
The result was a colourful, witty show with plenty of bad jokes and a feelgood ending. The songs were refreshingly original, there was a lively dance or two choreographed by Pamela Needham. And there wasn’t a single adult in sight to steal the thunder of several dozen enthusiastic youngsters in this show at the Pomegranate, Chesterfield.
Well done, Peak Youth!