Gallen Community School in Ferbane have deligthed audiences once again after they staged their 26th annual musical production in the school last week.
This years musical was an adaptation of Charles Dicken's timeless classic, Oliver, and the show lived up to the finest traditions of theatre that has been the hallmark of Gallen CS musicals down the years.
Ava O'Connor was excellent in the lead role and played the demanding part of Oliver with a maturity that belied the fact that Ava is only in second year. Her acting and singing talents were given full and free expression as the audience empathised with Oliver's struggle for a family and for justice.
The poignant rendition of "Where is Love?" resonated with the audience as one of the standout moments of the production.
Cailum Woods was excellent as Fagin, master of thieves. Despite our awareness of Fagin as a famous pickpocket, Cailum's faithful portrayal of the master villain also showed the private side of the character.
Chloe Healy was very strong vocally and was excellent in her portrayal of Nancy. Nancy is a good girl trapped in a bad world and Chloe helped to bring this theme into play as she wrestled with her conscience, dying a violent death to help bring Oliver to safety.
There was something sad about a life unfulfilled as Nancy sang the ironically titled "It's a Fine Life," surrounded, as she was, by a band of thieves.
Sam Flynn was excellent as the chillingly evil Bill Sykes. His menacing arrival in the Three Cripples Pub, where he tells all present how his name puts fear into people, was a fitting example of Syke's relentless evil.
Ross McLoughlin was excellent as the suave and jolly Artful Dodger, the counterpoint to Syke's brooding menace. Ffion Anderson was excellent as the calm Mr Sowerberry whose wife was excellently played by Katy Moran.
Calvin Fox Keena was excellent as Mr Bumble as was Amber Poland as Widow Corney. Nicole Buckley was very good as Bet and Rachel Bracken as Old Sally.
Paul Coughlan gave a sterling portrayal as the humanitarian Dr Brownlow who is joyfully reunited with his grandson Oliver.
Cian Egan as Dr Grimwig, Kieran Hurd as the provocative Noah Claypole, Aoibhe Kelly as Charlotte and Jenny Darcy as Mrs Bedwin all reprised their roles with great relish.
A word of praise for some excellent singing cameos from the first year girls led by Megan Dunican, Vanessa Claffey, Liadh Dalton, Megan Henson, Maedhbh Keenaghan, Mary Coughlan, Lauren Reynolds, Lilly Anne Taylor Loonam, Faye McLaughlin, Sarah Flynn and Hannah Connon who performed "Who will buy my sweet red roses?" with great feeling.
The Victorian street backdrops, the fantastically constructed and painted sets and the glittering array of costumes all bore ample testimony to the hard work and dedication put in since last October by cast and crew.
The school paid tribute to the work done by Mr Micheal Mac Cartain, producer and set construction; Mrs Derval Scully, choreographer; Mrs Evelyn Breen, costume designer; and Ms Heather Bracken, musical director; Mr Pascal Gough and Mr Derek Recks and the light and sound crew.
Credit also goes to Ms Josephine McKeogh and the TY group for set design and painting; Mr Michael Lenihan and Mr John Doyle; set construction and IT; Mr Deery and Ms Kelly; stage management and to Ms Kennedy, Mrs Mac Cartain, Ms Marie Power, Jack Rabbitte and Ciaran Rabbitte, the musicians.
The school also thanked the Transition Year group who did a fantastic job over many weeks in a variety of ways to make the show such a success.