Oliver! Review

Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York – until 26th November 2022

Reviewed by Ellie Watson


Oliver! Oliver!”, well what can I say. This was a good show that was fun to watch. Oliver is Lionel Bart’s adaptation of the classic novel by Charles Dickens. This follows an orphan born, called Oliver, and his journey from living in a London workhouse, to getting kicked out because he asked for more food leading him to living amongst a gang of pickpockets on the streets of London. Despite Oliver trying to fit in, he was caught trying to pickpocket and this eventually reunites him unexpectedly with his long-lost rich family who can provide him with a new start to life.

When the show began the first thing that happens is lots of children arriving on stage from all around the theatre to begin the song ‘Food Glorious Food’. The stage was overcome with many children, more than I’ve even seen on this stage before. However, where did most of these children go as many weren’t seen again? Let’s move on though.

The role of Oliver Twist was played by Zachary Pickersgill (alternating with Fin Walker throughout the run). Zachary had a sweet version of Oliver which was heart-warming to see, especially when he sang ‘Where is Love’.

A standout performance to me was from the director, producer and chairman of NE Musicals, Steve Tearle who played Fagin. You could clearly see his experience in this character, and he worked with the children in Fagin’s gang well and made his scenes with the kids really stand out.

The start of Act 2 was good with the performance of ‘Oom-Pah-Pah’. This was so full of energy and the stage burst into life which really showed the vocals of Nancy (Maia Beatrice, alternating with Perri Anne Barley). However, sometimes it was quite hard to hear Maia due to ensemble’s loud vocals and the band overpowering her vocals at times.

However, the part of the musical that stood out to me was Maia’s rendition of ‘As Long As He Needs Me’ which was very emotional and sang well with good vocal technique. However, the band did overpower Maia in the reprise of this song on the last final belt note which was upsetting to see as it’s her big moment to shine.

The end of the show is very powerful when Nancy is killed which stuns the audience into silence. This leaves the audience in a sombre mood though when the production ends, despite the bows trying to be a bit jollier. However, this is no fault of the production team but the musical’s story itself.

Overall, the production was good for an amateur production but there are things that could be changed to make this better, and don’t want to name any names but some of the cast really need to act like they are enjoying performing in the show, especially in upbeat songs like ‘Consider Yourself’.

Everyone loves the production Oliver though and you can sing along to the songs and it’s a good night out at the theatre.