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Oliver! by Charles Dickens, performed by The Masqueraders Theatrical Society at Abbey Theatre, Nuneaton, from 4 - 8 June 2024.

Review by Margaret Mather.

If you don’t leave this show smiling, and singing, Consider Yourself or You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two, then there’s no hope for you. This iconic musical based on a classic Charles Dickens novel, was played to perfection by the Masqueraders Theatrical Society.

What a joyous production. Songs, first heard in the early 60s, are still as fresh as the day they were written and bring childhood memories flooding back, each one unforgettable.

Poor Oliver (played exquisitely by Jacob Macbeth) was born into a Victorian workhouse. With little food and shocking conditions, he bravely struggled on. His tormentors, Mr Bumble (played by Rich Yates) and Widow Corney (played by Annette Rigby) are cruel and heartless.

Great performances by all the players.

Oliver longs for a chance at freedom. After asking for more food, he is sold to a Funeral Director (played by Chad Fletcher.)That didn’t work out and Oliver finds himself on the streets.

Oliver ends up working for a criminal called Fagin (played by Alex Lewis) and begins a life of crime. The Artful Dodger (played to perfection by Jack Deaves) helps show Oliver the skills needed to be a first-class thief.

Bill Sikes, (played by Andy Ward) is a ruthless killer and makes life a misery for those that come into contact with him. His girlfriend Nancy (played by Fern O’Brien) is the only one who loves him and she ends up dead at his hands.

The show does have a happy ending and Oliver finds his forever home.

The cast of Oliver!

All of the children in the show played their parts brilliantly. They never missed a line, sang like nightingales, and danced every step flawlessly. The rest of the cast were astounding, such talented individuals.

This is an uplifting, must-see, musical extravaganza of the finest kind.

One tiny little criticism was the over zealous use of the smoke machine in creating a foggy London atmosphere, which turned into a bit of a real pea-souper for some of the audience! I'm pretty sure this will be adjusted for the remainder of the performances.


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