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Oliver - Sheffield Crucible Theatre

Published by: Paul Tyree on 19th Dec 2013 | View all blogs by Paul Tyree

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Monday 16th December 2013 - Crucible Theatre,

Reviewed by Melanie Creaser

Sheffield Theatres under the direction of Daniel Evans invite us to experience their version of Oliver!  Lionel Bart’s popular adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist is playing to packed houses and no wonder; this energetic show is a predominantly delightful experience. 


Expectations are high when a novel and its subsequent film and stage adaptations are so well known and loved.  Dickens was a young man when he penned this second novel, and would surely have been impressed by the youthful vivacity on display in this latest musical adaptation of his work.  


The first show-stopper of the night, Food Glorious Food, was suitably rousing and much appreciated by the audience.  The children were certainly in good voice as indeed they were throughout.  Oliver himself, played by Jack Skilbeck-Dunn, a local schoolboy should be proud of his performance which suffered only a couple of minor blips.  His portrayal was utterly adorably but avoided being syrupy sweet, thankfully.

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The crowd scenes with musical numbers were particularly impressive, almost to the extent of creating a film-like quality.  It felt like there were hundreds rather than dozens of players on the stage.  This feeling was helped along by excellent choreography, well executed by the cast such as in the number Consider Yourself, performed towards the end of the first act.  It was marvellously well performed and elicited cheers from the audience, who seemed fully absorbed in the proceedings.  Another highlight from the first act was the comically menacing portrayal of the undertaker, Mr Sowerberry by Chris Vincent whose performance was hindered only by not being longer.


The second act opened spectacularly with Oom-Pah-Pah performed by Hayley Gallivan giving us her excellent portrayal of Nancy with much of the rest of the cast supporting beautifully in the energetic pub scene.  As with many of the routines it made all the more visually appealing by the strong colours used in some of the costumes and props. 

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The sets were effective, working well in helping to draw the viewer in to the proceedings.  Fagin’s abode was nicely created with just enough detail for us to be able to fill in the gaps from our own imagination.  Fagin himself played by Tom Edden probably achieved the greatest applause from the audience and did all the right things but nevertheless, for this audience member, failed to completely steal the show as some would say the character should.  However, his final number, Reviewing the Situation, was superb and saw him step up a gear.

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The only real disappointment in this production was the lead up to the ending which seemed a little rushed.  Bill Sykes’ demise was rather hurried, his dog Bullseye only seen for seconds and the dog’s vital role in the downfall of Sykes overlooked.  Sykes’ capture and comeuppance felt rather glossed over, even taken for granted in the end.  That said, it is difficult to capture the role of Bullseye on the stage but still, it’s a shame they didn’t.


All in all this is most definitely a show to see.  Get in quick as dates are selling out fast.  This one is a cracking production by Sheffield Theatres have achieved a real crowd-pleaser.


Melanie Creaser.

Oliver! runs until 25 January 2014 


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 4 years ago
    Thanks, Melanie. Good to see that care is taken to present such a classic show well.
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