Oliver!… with a Twist! The classic Dickens tale re-told on stage, with classic songs “Food Glorious Food”, “Pick a Pocket or Two” and the heartbreaking “As Long As He Needs Me”. This well loved family musical gave PMOS the chance to re-invent an old favourite, as well as working with two extremely professional casts of young actors. A favourite with musical theatre fans and thespians alike!
As a way to get people talking about our show we decided to introduce our cast members to the public, telling them a little about their part in the production and why Oliver was a great show to come and see. Here are the videos which were used in the run up to the show:
It was with some surprise that I noted from the programme that PMOS has not previously staged this popular show and with Dickens’ story, excellent music and a first class theatre, success was assured. On the night I attended, Oliver was played by Lewis McCann whose singing and acting were impeccable. Lewis Kerr played the part in alternative performances and I am sure the same care would be taken by the selection panel in casting him in the role. Lawrence Clark played a truly artful Dodger and Iain Usher excelled as Fagin in all the nuances of that sad complicated charater – particularly as he ‘reviewed the situation’. Richard Macgowan gave a strong portrayal of the fearful Bill Sikes with Judith Miller cast as the long suffering Nancy. Bob McDevitt as the pompous Mr Bumble and Patricia Welch as the loopy Widow Corney were well matched in the opening two numbers. The scene in the Undertaker’s parlour was a little gem with Oliver, Mr Bumble, Mr Sowerberry (Iain G Condie) and Mrs Sowerberry (Susan Kernohan) in the humerous number ‘That’s Your Funeral’. Alastair McCall played the somewhat ineffective Dr Grimwig and Norman MacMillan the kindly Mr Brownlow. The production team are to be congratulated on their efforts in directing the numerous members of Fagin’s Gang and the Workhouse Children as the acting and singing were first class. The major scenes in the show were well directed and particularly the opening number ‘Food, Glorious Food’, the thieves kitchen scene ‘Pick A Pocket or Two’, the scene in the Three Cripples ‘Oom-Pah-Pah’ and the finales of both acts. The nine piece orchestra completed what was a fine evening’s live entertainment.” T Davies Brock, NODA Scotland News, May 2011
The musical opens in the workhouse, as the half-starved orphan children and other workers are entering the enormous lunchroom for dinner (“Food Glorious Food”). They are fed only gruel. Nine-year-old Oliver gathers up the courage to ask for more. He is immediately apprehended and is told he will be sold by Mr. Bumble and Widow Corney, the heartless and greedy caretakers of the workhouse (“Oliver!”). Mr. Bumble and Widow Corney are left alone, and Mr. Bumble begins to make amorous advances. Mrs. Corney pretends to resent his attentions (“I Shall Scream!”), but ends up on Mr. Bumble’s lap, kissing him. Oliver comes back and is promptly sold (“Boy for Sale”) and apprenticed to an undertaker, Mr. Sowerberry. He and his wife taunt Oliver and Mr. Bumble (“That’s Your Funeral”). He is sent to sleep under the shop counter with the coffins, something which makes him visibly uncomfortable. (“Where is Love?”).
The next morning bully Noah Claypole, who oversees Oliver’s work, insults Oliver’s dead mother, whereupon Oliver begins pummeling him. Mrs. Sowerberry and her daughter, Charlotte run in, and become hysterical. Mr. Bumble is sent for, and he and the Sowerberrys lock Oliver in a coffin, but during all the commotion Oliver escapes. After a week on the run, he meets the Artful Dodger, a boy wearing an oversize coat and a top hat. He beckons Oliver to join him (“Consider Yourself”). Dodger is, unknown to Oliver, a boy pickpocket, and he invites Oliver to come and live in Fagin’s lair. Fagin is a criminal, and he is in the business of teaching young boys and girls to pick pockets. Oliver, however, is completely unaware of any criminality, and believes that the children make handkerchiefs rather than steal them. Oliver is introduced to Fagin and all the other pickpockets, and is taught their ways (“You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two”). When all the children are asleep Fagin sneeks off to the Three Criples pub, where Nancy is leading the rowdy crowd in full song (“It’s a Fine Life”). Meeting Bill Sikes in the pub, Fagin eagerly deals with Bill happily taking the stolen merchandise from Bill’s nightly haul. Fagin returns to his lair only to be discovered by Oliver, while looking too long over the stolen goods. Fagin swears Oliver to secrecy and the frightened young boy agrees that he seen nothing.
The next day, Oliver meets Nancy, the live-in girlfriend of the evil, terrifying Bill Sikes, a burglar whose abuse she endures because she loves him. Nancy and Oliver take an instant liking to each other, and Nancy shows motherly affection toward him. Bet, Nancy’s younger best friend is also with her. Dodger humorously starts pretending to be an upper-class citizen, (“I’d Do Anything”), along with Fagin, Oliver, Nancy, Bet, and the boys mocking high society. Nancy and Bet leave and Oliver is sent out with the other children on his first pickpocketing job (“Be Back Soon”), though he still believes that they are going to teach him how to make handkerchiefs. Dodger, another boy pickpocket named Charley Bates, and Oliver decide to stick together, and when Dodger and Charley rob Mr. Brownlow, a wealthy old man, they run off, leaving Oliver to be arrested for the crime.
In the Three Cripples pub, Nancy is called upon to sing an old tavern song (“Oom Pah Pah”). Brutal housebreaker Bill Sikes makes his appearance, and disperses the crowd, (“My Name”). It emerges that Nancy is in love with him. Dodger runs in and tells Fagin about Oliver being captured before being subsequently cleared of the crime and taken in by Mr. Brownlow. Fagin and Bill decide to kidnap Oliver to protect the whereabouts of their den. Nancy, who pities Oliver, refuses to help, but Bill physically abuses her and forces her into obedience. In spite of this, Nancy still loves Bill, and believes he loves her too (“As Long As He Needs Me”).
The next morning, at Mr. Brownlow’s house in Bloomsbury, Ms. Bedwin, the housekeeper, sings to Oliver, (“Where Is Love? [Reprise]”), and Oliver wakes up. Mr. Brownlow and Dr. Grimwig discuss Oliver’s condition. They come to the conclusion that he is well enough to go outside, and Mr. Brownlow sends Oliver on an errand- he asks him to return some books to the library. From his window, Oliver sees a group of street vendors and joins them in song once he steps outside (“Who Will Buy?”). As the vendors leave, Nancy and Bill show up and grab Oliver. They bring him back to Fagin’s den, where Nancy saves Oliver from a beating from Sykes after the boy tries to flee but is stopped. Nancy angrily and remorsefully reviews their dreadful life, but Bill maintains that any living is better than none. Fagin tries to act as an intermediary (“It’s A Fine Life [Reprise]”). When Sikes and Nancy leave, Fagin, who also wants out, humorously ponders his future (“Reviewing the Situation”). However, every time he thinks of a good reason for going straight, he reconsiders and decides to remain a criminal.
Back at the workhouse, Mr. Bumble and Widow Corney, now unhappily married, meet up with the dying pauper Old Sally and another old lady, who tell them that Oliver’s mother, Agnes, left a gold locket (indicating that he comes from a rich family) when she died in childbirth. Old Sally stole the locket and now gives it to the Widow Corney. Mr. Bumble and Widow Corney, realizing that Oliver may have wealthy relatives, visit Mr. Brownlow in order to profit from any reward given out for information of him (“Oliver! [Reprise]”). He throws them out, knowing that they have suppressed evidence until they could get a reward for it. Brownlow looks at the picture inside the locket, a picture of his daughter, and realizes that Oliver, who knows nothing of his family history, is actually his grandson.
Nancy, terrified for Oliver and feeling guilty, visits Brownlow and promises to deliver Oliver to him safely that night at midnight on London Bridge – if Brownlow does not bring the police or ask any questions. She then ponders again about Bill (“As Long As He Needs Me [Reprise]”). Bill suspects that Nancy is up to something. That night, he follows her as she sneaks Oliver out. At London Bridge, he confronts them, knocks Oliver down, and brutally clubs Nancy to death. He then grabs Oliver and runs off with him, back to the hideout to ask Fagin for getaway money. Mr. Brownlow, who had been late keeping the appointment, arrives and discovers Nancy’s body. A large crowd soon forms, among them the distraught Bet. Bet realising that it was Bill who killed Nancy informs the crowd and leads them to Fagin’s den where Bill would be hiding out. After they exit Fagin and his gang of children, terrified at the idea of being apprehended, leave their hideout in panic. The anxious crowd, now whipped up into a thirst for justice, find Bill at Fagins and finally take on the ruthless Bill. Outmatched by sheer numbers Bill is finally beaten to death by the crowd. Oliver is then reunited with Mr. Brownlow. The mob, still eager for vengeance against this underground criminal network, begins a mad search for Fagin. When one of the members of the crowd suggest that he may be at the Three Cripples pub, they disperse offstage in order to track him down. As the crowd exits, Fagin sneaks on and decides that, after years of pickpocketing and training junior pickpocketers, the time has never looked better for him to straighten out his life.
Just as the final number ends, the Artful Dodger emerges from the shadows and picks up Bill’s Jimmy (beating stick) and puts on his hat, singing “we could be like old Bill Sikes… if we pick a pocket or two“, alluding of a sign of things to come.