Leeds Grand Theatre
Even the meanest curmudgeon couldn’t help but have their cynicism chipped away by this new touring production of Lionel Bart’s classic.
Oliver! really is a classic. It’s one of those masterpieces that’s made it into the pantheon of great shows on the back of being packed with a string of famous tunes, from Food, Glorious Food to Consider Yourself and Where is Love? Combine that with Charles Dickens’s heartbreaking rags-to-riches story and a Cameron Mackintosh production and what you have is something so beguiling it feels more like witchcraft than stagecraft.
Neil Morrissey – the most talked about element of this touring version – does a capable job as Fagin, but this musical doesn’t glide along on star associations, as was obvious from the show-stealing performances from Sebastian Croft, as the tearjerking Oliver, and Daniel Huttlestone, who hits you with a suitably cocky but hilarious Artful Dodger.
The only other ‘names’ on the cast list are Iain Fletcher (formerly DC Rodney Skase on TV drama, The Bill) who gives a surprisingly sinister interpretation of the murderous Bill Sykes, and Samantha Barks, who landed the role of Nancy after making it to the final of the BBC talent show I’d Do Anything.
But, as impressive as they are, they play a relatively small part in a show which is far greater than the sum of its already overwhelming parts.
To December 8.