Oliver, theatre review: 'A series of stupendous performances'

5.00

Sheffield Crucible: 'Visually gorgeous and beautifully choreographed'

It has been a pretty special year for Sheffield Theatres. The Full Monty reprised back in its Steel City backyard was a joyous critical and popular hit touring the country to rapturous receptions. The unlikely This is My Family, a musical about a doomed inter-generational camping trip, also went on to win a UK Theatre Award.

It came as little surprise when artistic director Daniel Evans’s was a name very much in the frame for the top job at the National Theatre – surely an honour that must still await him at some point.

This year’s Christmas show directed by Evans, had a tough act to follow. Last year’s My Fair Lady, in which Dominic West was teamed alongside the stellar emerging talent of Carly Bawden set the bar at a dizzying height. Yet Oliver! – the first revival of Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s 1994 production at the London Palladium -  pretty much makes the leap.

Once again the show was visually gorgeous, beautifully choreographed and lavishly orchestrated with Lionel Bart’s non-stop jukebox of show-stopping hits lovingly restored to life.

A series of stupendous performances cemented the success. Tom Edden as Fagin was simply outstanding as the horrible old corrupter of youth whose self-serving survival instincts and magpie acquisitiveness overwhelm any natural redeeming instincts he may have had lurking within.

Hayley Gallivan was equally splendid as poor misguided Nancy alongside the smouldering malevolence of Ben Richards’ stuff-of-nightmares Bill Sikes. Her murder scene erred just on the right side of family friendly.

David Phipps-Davis (Mr Bumble) has a fine operatic baritone whilst that night’s Oliver, Jack Skilbeck-Dunn, produced a heart-rending and suitably angelic tourist voyaging through the seamy and violent underside of Victorian society.

Oliver! was to prove the pinnacle of Bart’s success, a financial goldmine which funded his outrageous lifestyle and fuelled his alcoholic tendencies until that is, having signed away the rights to the show, the money ran out and he ended up living alone, broke and sick in a flat in Acton.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh helped the songwriter in later life returning him a share of the rights and recruiting him on the Palladium production - although Bart was never to fully recover from the ravages of his vodka years, dying in 1999.

In the 1960s, when Oliver! was enjoying its extraordinary West End and Broadway runs – not to mention the multi-Oscar winning 1968 film – the satire generation rather looked down on Bart, the son of a Jewish tailor and his honest-to-goodness, plinkety-plonk portrayal of the human condition.

As this production shows there is nothing complicated musically about Oliver! nor the straightforward morality tale he adapted at its core. There is however a very acute feeling of the precariousness of life and the sense that there but for the grace of God go I when it comes to the way things turn out. It is this sheer humanity of the piece which shines through and makes it a touching classic that will never fade. This is another richly deserved hit for Sheffield and one that bodes well for 2014.  

To 25 January

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice