Newcastle Theatre Royal
Three years have hurtled by since I saw Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. I was pleased to take the opportunity to see it again, this time somewhat closer to home.
In 2009, Omid Djalili was Fagin and Nancy was played by Jodie Prenger; this time we saw Neil Morrissey and Cat Simmons in the respective roles. Evil Bill Sikes was played by Iain Fletcher.
I enjoyed seeing the different ways in which the 'new' cast brought their own personalities to the characters. For example, back in 2009 Omid Djalili threw in some improvised jokes about not trusting bansk; here in 2012 Neil Morrissey supplied some Bob the Builder 'can we fix it?' in-jokes as Fagin picked his way through some damaged loot.
The whole show was fantastic, of course. Lionel Bart's wonderful songs are still as uplifting as ever and despite the hard edges and potent social comment inherent in the actual story, the viewing experience is always a very positive one.
The theatre was packed and the audience very appreciative (gamely booing Bill Sikes at the end in traditional fashion).
There's just one event I have scheduled for the Dickens bicentenary and that's a forthcoming trip to the London Palladium to see the legendary Tommy Steele in Scrooge.