“Please, sir, I want some more.”
Those plaintive words from orphan Oliver Twist must have been heeded by bosses at the Curve, Leicester, where their all-singing, all-dancing version of Oliver! has now been extended for another week until January 23, writes Tony Spittles.
This lively and enjoyable alternative to traditional panto fare is a real delight for all the family, and is headed by theatre, TV and film all-rounder Peter Polycarpou (Miss Saigon, Birds of a Feather and Evita being just three on his varied CV) as the slippery and scheming dodgy dealer Fagin.
His ragtag bunch of young urchins displayed a real stage presence as Fagin’s right-hand man, the Artful Dodger (the role shared by Joel Fossard-Jones and Kwame Kandekore), welcomed the young Oliver (standout performances from both Albert Hart and Liam Carr alternating in the title role) to their pick-pocketing group after Oliver had run away from the undertaker where he had been apprenticed as punishment by the workhouse for wanting some more food.
Lionel Bart’s award-winning musical is now more than 50 years old, but has a new lease of life with Paul Kerryson’s direction and Matt Kinley’s inventive set which moves the story effortlessly from Oliver’s arrival at the workhouse, through hard times and a run-in with the law to a family reunion with the Brownlows at their fashionable Bloomsbury home.
Intertwined with Bart’s take on Dickens’s 1838 novel about London’s underworld and organised juvenile crime are some real musical belters that linger long after the curtain has dropped.
This was more than evident from the opening Food, Glorious Food sung by Oliver and the boys from the workhouse to Fagin’s finale in Reviewing the Situation as he rues Oliver’s safe return to his family and his own future in crime.
In between there are gems galore, whether it was Oliver’s solo Where Is Love?; Mr and Mrs Sowberry (Jez Unwin and Natalie Moore-Williams) and the beadle, Mr Bumble (James Grant), making light of things in That’s Your Funeral, to Fagin and the boys teaching Oliver the tricks of the trade in You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two.
The villain of the piece, Bill Sikes (Oliver Boot), accompanied by his bull terrier Bull’s Eye, sang My Name (omitted from the 1968 film adaptation), a prelude to his “heart of gold” girlfriend, Nancy (Cat Simmons) giving a new intensity to another show-stopper, As Long as He Needs Me.
Tickets for this trip back to Victorian London range from £18.50 to £42, and further details of show times for the production, which now runs until Saturday January 23, can be obtained from the Curve box office on 0116-242-3595, or via the website at www.curveonline.co.uk