REVIEW: Oliver! at Bristol Hippodrome
By Carol_Deacon | Friday, January 25, 2013, 16:40
Oliver! opened at the Bristol Hippodrome this week and it is a brilliant feast of a show.
Oliver! is a feast of a show
Neil Morrissey plays the old miser Fagin
Les Misérables star Samantha Barks plays Nancy
Lionel Bart's Oliver! first opened in London in June 1960 and in its many guises from the fabulous Nailsea School student production in December 2010 it has been thrilling audience.
But the Bristol show with its 50-strong cast is a glorious blockbuster.
From the opening workhouse scene when a Mark Lester-lookalike asks for more and the cast burst into song with Food, Glorious, Food to the closing moments which sees a dejected Fagin shuffling off into the sunset this was a sit-up in your seat and take notice musical hit.
Character actor Neil Morrissey who is probably best known as Tony in the hugely successful TV series Men Behaving Badly plays Fagin, the miserly fence known for his insincere utterances like 'certainly my dear' and 'I am reviewing the situation'.
With some of the biggest names in show business having played the role, from Ron Moody to Roy Hudd, the Bob the Builder voiceover star had a hard act to follow but he was great.
Living with his little pickpockets in an east London lair he teaches this motley band of street urchins how to steal, drink gin and sing and dance.
Not quite as grotesque and threatening as other Fagin's Neil Morrissey is balanced by a really bad Bill Sikes played by Iain Fletcher whose portrayal and body language is very much like a young Oliver Reed.
His brute of a dog Bullseye added to the fear factor.
The Artful Dodger as usual was adorable but among the juniors the real scene stealer with his 'gangnam-style' dancing is Nipper, the smallest boy in the troupe.
With a three teams of child actors taking turns to perform the night I attended Oliver was played admirably by Sebastian Croft and Dodger by an equally talented Daniel Huttlestone.
The misty Dickensian set with its wooden gantry and walls daubed with bible quotes to the backdrop of St Paul's and the gentrified Bloomsbury houses of Oliver's benefactor were fantastic.
The ashen faces of the miserable undertakers Mr and Mrs Sowerberry (David Langham and CJ Johnson) weren't going to win any prizes for employers of the year.
But there were lovely touches by the players like the tall and lanky funeral director holding his umbrella on high to elongate his silhouette and the 'worthless' taunts of underling Noah Claypole (Steve Hutchinson) resounded around the theatre.
Other atmospheric scenes include the razzmatazz of the travelling circus in the Georgian square with jugglers, acrobats, clowns and a weight-lifter which contrasted with the bare-knuckle fighters in the dingy Three Cripples dockland bar with its short flash of colour from the can-can skirts of the goodtime girls.
Comedian Eddie Large and his wife Patsy who live in Portishead were among the audience on Thursday night.
Eddie says his number one musical of all time is Les Miserables and he had only just seen the new film at the weekend.
"But this show is fabulous and it is a absolute delight to find Samantha Barks who was Eponine in the film and stage version of Les Misérables playing Nancy," he said.
The BBC I'll Do Anything finalist is perfect as the bighearted prostitute - loud, loveable and vulnerable - she gets my vote as the star of the show.
Young Master Huttlestone also landed a part in the film as Gavroche a Parisian street boy.
Bath Chronicle reporter Laura Tremelling, who lives in Clevedon, said: "I had a great evening watching Oliver!
"Neil Morrissey was fabulous as Fagin and Stephen Moore was in it - the dad from The Queen's Nose - a blast from the past."
Stephen Moore who plays Mr Parker is the CBBCs hit is eventually revealed as Oliver's granddad Mr Brownlow.
He was the original voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android from way back when The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy was on the wireless.
A brilliant Mr and Mrs Bumble (Jack Edwards and Claire Machin) enjoy some pre-wedding saucy flirting before the big bang reality check which is nothing like wedded bliss.
With a splash of mother's ruin behind her ears the saucy Claire Machin sounded like a tyrannical Eth Glum from the 1950s radio show to her eager to please man-wearing-tights partner in crime Jack Edwards.
Full marks to the cast, musicians, set and costume designers and director Laurence Connor for a first class show – catch-it while you can.
OLIVER! plays until Sunday, February 24, and tckets cost £17.50-£54.50 with concessions available at certain performances.
For further details go to www.oliverthemusical.com.
Also programmed to play during 2013 are:
Taiko musical troupe from Japan
Wednesday, February 27, at 7.30pm
Tickets £15-£31.50 with concessions available
For further details go to www.yamato.jp
MAGIC – A KIND OF QUEEN
First and best Queen tribute band
Thursday, February 28, at 7.30pm
For further details go to www.magicakindofqueen.co.uk
Licence To Thrill six world class dancers and 14-piece orchestra
Friday, March 1, at 7.30pm
Tickets £25.50-£33.50 with concessions available
For further details go to www.brendancole.com
THE MILITARY WIVES SHOW
A specially selected regional choir with the band of the Royal Anglian Regiment
Saturday, March 2 at 7.30 pm
Tickets £22.50 with concessions available
THE FULL MONTY
Starring Kenny Doughty, Craig Gazey, Simon Rouse, Kieran O'Brien, Roger Morlidge and Sidney Cole
Monday to Saturday, March 4-9
Tickets £12.50-£30 with concessions available at certain performance
Stand up comedian
Sunday, March 10, at 7.30pm
Tickets £18 with concessions available
9 to 5: THE MUSICAL
Starring Mark Moraghan, Jackie Clune, Amy Lennox and Bonnie Langford
Monday to Saturday, March 18-23
Tickets £15-£42 with concessions available at certain performances
For further details go to www.9to5themusical.co.uk
One of the best loved and longest running (skating) musicals in theatrical history
Tuesday to Saturday, March 26-April 6
Tickets £19.50-£45 with concessions available at certain performances
For further details click HERE.
Your chance to learn how to hand jive
Sunday evening, April 7
For further details go to www.singalonga.net
A theatrical Kung Fu show
Monday evening, April 8
Tickets £22-£24 with concessions available
NEW JERSEY NIGHTS
A musical journey celebrating the greatest hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
Tuesday to Saturday, April 9-13
Tickets £10-£32.50 with concessions available at certain performances
PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT
The heartwarming Australian musical adventure starring Jason Donovan
Monday to Saturday, April 15-27
Tickets £10-£45 with concessions available at certain performances
Whodunnit starring Karl Howman, Bruno Langley, Graham Seed, Steven France, Jemma Walker and Clare Wilkie
Monday to Saturday, April 29-May 4
Tickets £14.50-£32.50 with concessions available
For further details go to www.mousetrapontour.com
MATTHEW BOURNE'S SLEEPING BEAUTY
The world premiere of a re-imagining of a ballet classic
Tuesday and Saturday, May 7-11
Tickets £15-£38.50 with concessions available
For further details go to http://www.new-adventures.net/productions/sleeping_beauty
BEN AND HOLLY'S LITTLE KINGDOM
BAFTA award-winning television animation for small children shown comes to the stage
Wednesday and Thursday, May 15-16
Tickets £12.50-£16.50 with concessions available
YES, PRIME MINISTER
The return of PM Jim Hacker and his cabinet secretary Sir Humphrey
Monday to Saturday, May 20-25
Tickets £10-£29.50 with concessions available at certain performances
Psychic Sally on the road
Sunday, June 9
Fit and famous
Tuesday, June 11
ROY CHUBBY BROWN
Billed as 'rude and crude' views of women and gender
Wednesday evening, June 12
Tickets £21 with concessions available
MAGIC OF MOTOWN
Packed with 36 back-to-back massive Motown hits
Thursday evening, June 13
Tickets £21-£24 with concessions available
AN EVENING OF BURLESQUE
Dirty dancing with finesse to put a smile on your face
Friday evening, June 14
Tickets £20.50-£23 with concessions available
HALFWAY TO PARADISE – THE BILLY FURY STORY
Saturday, June 15 at 7.30 pm
Tickets £21 with concessions available
For further information go to www.billyfurystory.com
BILL BAILEY: QUALMPEDDLAR
Sunday evening, June 16
THE MOODY BLUES
Sunday evening, June 23
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT
Tuesday to Saturday, June 25-29
Tickets: £10-£29.50 with concessions available at certain performances
HAIRSPRAY THE MUSICAL
Starring Mark Benton as Edna Turnblad
Tuesday to Saturday, August 6-17
Tickets £15-£48.50 with concessions available at certain performances
For further information go to www.hairspraythetour.com
Actor, tv presenter and comedian
Friday and Saturday, November 15-16
For further information go to www.jasonmanford.com