Oliver! (Tour - Newcastle)
Every part of the staging from the large orchestra to the North East selection of children playing the workhouse orphans, is perfect. The vast set combined with the extensive cast fill the stage in a way I cannot remember happening before at the Theatre Royal.
While the Dickens story of Oliver Twist is at the heart of the musical, it is the Lionel Bart score containing so many showstoppers that provides the magic. Food, Glorious Food, Where Is Love?, It’s A Fine Life, As Long As He Needs Me and Reviewing The Situation, are just some of the musical delights, all originally choreographed by Matthew Bourne and restaged for this tour by Geoffrey Garratt.
Fagin is superbly played by Brian Conley, who gives the character so many comedy moments (without distracting from the story) in a way only he can. The chemistry with his “gang ” is all too evident and that adds to the delight of the show. He justly proves why he is one of top stage performers in Britain today.
Both Cat Simmons as Nancy, and Iain Fletcher, as the evil Bill Sykes are excellently cast and while there are several sets of children playing different performances (press night had Sebastian Croft as Oliver and Daniel Huttlestone (who has just finished filming the Les Miserable movie) as Dodger) their connection with the cast, in both the dance and dramatic scenes, is faultless.
It is impossible to say anything negative about this very large scale touring production and even if you only see one show this year, this has to be it. It is hard to imagine we will see its likes again for a very long time.