Reviewed by Ceri Horner
Oliver! is based on the classic Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist
and was adapted to a musical in 1960 with book, music and lyrics by
This terrific production is performed by a very capable and talented
cast, with direction and choreography by David Lampard, and a precise
and tuneful orchestra conducted by Peter Johns.
Opening night featured the Dawkins cast led by Jack Raftopoulos who
is sweet and innocent as Oliver, making a great contrast to Isaiah
Fabro playing a confident and cheeky Artful Dodger.
The adults in this show are also well cast. Rod Shultz has the type
of voice that you never tire of hearing and shows his versatility as
the conniving Fagin who manages to steal a thing or two, including
Emma Bargery is perfect as the cheap and cheerful Nancy. Bargery
certainly knows how to sing and sell a song and the energy lifts
considerably every time she is leading the chorus.
Paul Talbot is wonderfully menacing as Bill Sikes, creating a
dangerous and disturbing presence every time he looms.
Great performances also from John Greene as Mr Bumble, Wendy Rayner
as Old Sally and David Lampard and Vanessa Lee Shirley as Mr and Mrs
Technical elements are also spot on, with lighting design by Daniel
Barber working extremely well with Lampards brilliant set and adding
to the dangerous and depressing feel of industrial London. The
flawless audio was designed by Matt Curtis and operated by Jamie
Lampard’s interpretation doesn’t have the energy or choreography that
you might expect in the big musical numbers, and the projected video
is used on the set with very mixed success. Still, this is a very
good production of this family favourite, with plenty to applaud.