Monday 16 July 2012

You couldn't ask for more from Oliver!

On Saturday 7th July 2012 I attended the matinee performance of Cameron Mackintosh's spectacular new production of Oliver! at Norwich Theatre Royal. Lionel Bart's musical masterpiece based on Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist premiered in the West End in 1960. This performance starred Brian Conley as Fagin, Cat Simmons as Nancy and Iain Fletcher as Bill Sikes.

Oliver Twist is a young boy who lives in a workhouse with other orphaned boys. When Oliver disrupts a meal by asking for more, he is sold to a local undertaker and his family. They treat Oliver horribly and make him sleep under the coffins. Oliver escapes and runs off to Paddington Green, where he quickly befriends another young boy, the Artful Dodger. Dodger takes him to his home, an academy for orphans who learn how to be pick-pockets run by a kind, yet slightly sinister, old gentleman named Fagin. Oliver is also introduced to Nancy Sikes, a lovable young woman, and Bet, Nancy's best friend.

When Oliver goes on his first pick-pocketing job, he is caught by the police. The man that Oliver thieved, Mr. Brownlow, learns of Oliver's sad past and brings him into his own home. Meanwhile, Nancy's husband (the villainous Bill Sikes) worries that Oliver will tell Mr. Brownlow and the police where the thieves live. He forces Nancy and Bet to snatch Oliver from Mr. Brownlow's house and take him back to Fagin's. Nancy does everything her husband tells her to but plans on secretly taking Oliver back to Mr. Brownlow. Before she can do so, Bill finds out of his wife's plans, and murders her. He then goes after Oliver, but is shot and killed. Oliver and Mr. Brownlow, who turns out to be Oliver's grandfather, return safely home.

It was like the West End had transferred to the Fine City with the brilliant atmosphere at a packed Norwich Theatre Royal along with the brilliant performances on stage. Wonderful songs including Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two, I'd  Do Anything, Oom Pah Pah and As Long As He Needs Me made this an experience to cherish. At the end of the show we all considered ourselves as part of the family on an afternoon of fun and laughs.

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