Well, what can I say? Last night’s trip to see Oliver! at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal was an experience beyond all expectations. I had been anticipating the show as a trip down memory lane as it was one of my first experiences of the West End as a nipper, and I had hazy recall of the well known songs. What I felt upon leaving the theatre amid the throng was the feeling of being inside one big communal grin.
Oliver! is, quite simply, superb. Class and quality oozes from every performance, every dance routine, every crescendo from the orchestra. The staging is world class – the set changes before your eyes with a dreamlike precision, transporting the audience from beautiful morning to subterranean grim in moments, as if a magician waved his wand across the stage.
Brian Conley proved his star quality as a complex Fagin, providing both shivers of revulsion and belly laughs. Iain Fletcher brought darkness with him to the stage as the heinous Bill Sykes, and Daniel Huttlestone was a perky if somewhat unintelligible Dodger. But without doubt the star of the show for me was Cat Simmons in the role of Nancy. Hairs on the back of the neck stuff.
Oliver! is the best thing I’ve seen in years. I’m going again before the 8 week run ends, and I advise you to, too!
Oliver! is showing at Theatre Royal Newcastle until 3 November. Tickets cost from £15.50 and can be booked online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk/whats-on/oliver or by telephone BOX OFFICE: 08448 11 21 21 GROUP SALES: 08448 11 21 22