Review: Oliver!

Southern Light Opera Company procuction of Oliver!. Pic: Comp
Southern Light Opera Company procuction of Oliver!. Pic: Comp
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WHO would have thought that a musical about poverty, child abuse and domestic violence could be so successful? Lionel Bart certainly did.

* * * * *

King’s Theatre

His adaptation of Charles Dickens’ book has become one of the UK’s best loved musicals, and ever since summer last year, the Southern Light Opera Company have been busily working on their own large-scale version.

Question was, could they cut the proverbial hot sausage and mustard?

Well, there were no major technical hitches to speak of, the costumes genuinely look like they were made in the 19th century and the lead singers could hold a note longer than the wind whistling outside on Leven Street.

The orchestra’s musicianship, for instance, brings out the merry, twinkly-sounding magic associated with the 1968 movie version. And even the Cockney accents on display would sound right at home on Albert Square.

Unlike modern musicals, though, Oliver! doesn’t insult the intelligence, nor does it talk down to the kid actors. The fact 11-year-old Alex Morrison held the 100 or so strong cast together as Oliver says it all.

Lori Flannigan, too, delivers as tart-with-a-heart Nancy. Bringing love, warmth and sex appeal to the role, her rendition of As Long As He Needs Me is a showstopper. However, Charlie Munro steals the show as Fagin. Receiving the loudest applause of the evening for Reviewing The Situation.

If anyone deserved to take a bow at the end of the show, though, it was choreographer Janice Bruce. How she managed to orchestrate such a large chorus of kids to move in perfect union is anyone’s guess.

At the end of the day, Oliver! is simply about a young boy’s search for love and belonging. Here, you’ll find both in spades. Mustard well and truly cut.

Run ends tomorrow