* Prices may differ from that shown
A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I had booked a night at a fancy hotel in London and wanted to see a show while we were there. Hvaing looked at the listings for the west end for that saturday nightwe decided to go to see Oliver! Now, I was never that much of a fan, and definitely didn't like Jodie Prenger on I'd Do Anything. I was also dubious about Omid Djalili as Fagin, and can't bear smug little child stars in general.
However we managed to get two stalls tickets from ebay for £58 so as it was a bargan off we went to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Now having been disappointed on a couple of occasions with the quality of London's theatres (Cambridge and Adelphi, I'm looking at you) I was most impressed by the Theatre Royal. It was grand enough to give a sense of occasion and our view from the stalls was excellent. I'm a fairly tiny 5'3" and had no problems seeing all of the stage (except for the bag in front who insisted on fanning herself with a crossword book for the enitre show).
Anyway we bought the obligatory programme (which wasn't too expensive £3 or £5, I can't remember) took our seats and waited for the show to start.
Having been sceptical, I was instantly converted. The scenery was excellent throughout the show and deserves special mention. Fagin's den was brilliantly evoked. I won't go through every song because a) there are too many and b) that would be boring.
What I will say is the cast perfomed every single song brilliantly. The children of Fagin's gang and the workhouse were neither smug nor annoying and were by turns funny and emotionally engaging. Oliver and Dodger were excellent, but special mention goes to the little boy who copied Fagin's dance moves and got the biggest laughs of the night.
Jodie Prenger managed not to annoy me and actually I liked her Nancy Her renditions of It's a Fine Life were strong and powerful, and As Long As He Needs Me was perhaps a little overblown but still made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up.
Bill Sykes was OK but was perhaps the most forgettable principal member of the cast. Nothing personal, just not brilliant.
Omid Djalili was however the surprise package of the night. He was excellent. I'd been disappointed not to see the show when Rowan Atkinson took the role of Fagin but now I am glad it was his Fagin I saw. He's no Ron Moody, but his saving grace is he doesn't try to be. I never imagined Fagin could be so humourous. Djalili really plays the part to perfection. He doesn't have the strongest singing voice but in my opinion it didn't matter as he brought so much more to the role.
Throughout the show the choreography was brilliant, especially on the big numbers like Consider Yourself and Who Will Buy. Seamless and faultless, and making excellent use of the scenery and its different levels.
Overall, a brilliant show and an unexpected brilliant night! I had been so reluctant and enjoyed it so much that I'd recommend it to anyone.
I'd Do Anything........ to see Oliver on stage again.
This past weekend my husband and I went to see Oliver the Musical in London and what a fantastic show it was. The production is at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane with the closet tube station being Covent Garden. The theatre itself is one of the old ones in London, over 200 years old we were told so it looks very classical and interesting inside. It's quite small compared to somewhere like the Paladium but this to me makes the production more intimate and you really feel like you are part of the show and watching it as if you are a bystander in old London town.
We had tickets in the stalls which were near the back. When I bought them they did inform me that they were partial blocked view seats and it is actually printed on the tickets that the circle overhang may obscure your view momentarily. It's true, the circle overhead did come down quite low and made you feel a bit claustrophobic. This probably applied to the last 15 or so rows in the back but once the show started you really forgot about that and in fact the overhang actually framed the stage. There were only a few times when the cast were on a bridge across the stage that you didn't see them but it really was only momentarily and did not take away from the show for me. We paid £37.50 each for our tickets but I think they do go up to £70 ish for the better seats. I do want to see this again and would probably pay the £70 next time. We bought our tickets from See Tickets.
The famous story is based on the book Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. The music and lyrics were written by Lionel Bart. This to me is a classic Dickens tale utilizing Dickensien London in all its glory. London itself forms a great background for the story and the sets in my opinion were just amazing. The stage is quite big so it really allowed for a lot of depth to be added to the sets, showing lots of dark and winding London streets for orphan boys to get lost in.
The show actually first premiered in the West End way back in 1960 with a new revival opening this year in January. Last year the BBC ran a show trying to find a new actress for the character of Nancy and also a few boys to rotate in the part of Oliver. The eventual winner, Jodie Prenger played the part of Nancy wonderfully. She has a big stage presence and a really powerful voice and managed to pull off the cockney accent very well. She had a few solo songs and you could definitely see the emotion in her performance.
It was the kids who made this musical for me. They were so well trained and polished and just a joy to watch. They were entertaining and extremely funny. The Artful Dodger stole the show for me. He was just a little kid but his dancing skills were second to none and he for me was definitely better than the boy who played Oliver although he was good too. My favourite number throughout the whole production was, "Consider Yourself," which is sung by The Artful Dodger, Oliver and the chorus. It was quite a long song but the singing and the dancing was mesmerising and you just could not take your eyes off the kids.
It's amazing how many well known songs are in this production that are used everyday in television advertising or just ones you have heard for years and years. Songs include Food, Glorious Food, I'd Do Anything, Oliver and As Long As He Needs Me.
The part of Fagin was quite a big character. When the show reopened in 2009 it originally stared Rowan Atkinson but he has just been replaced with the comic Omid Djalili. He was really good in the role, not someone I thought who could have played it when I first heard it was him but he has such a big personality anyway that he really used that and some of his own initiative to make the part very funny.
The costumes were great, both those of the scruffy orphans as well as the upper class clothes and really again added to the Dickens style of this musical. I loved this show and so it seems did the rest of the audience as we gave the cast a standing ovation at the end. Definitely one I would recommend.
I saw this musical a couple of weeks ago. I had booked my tickets on the final night of the BBC show I'd Do Anything, and had voted for Jodie to win. I was really annoyed when it was announced some time later that she would not be playing the part on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as I had only been able to get decent seats for a Thursday. The role is then played by Tamsin Carroll, but is also understudied by Sarah Lark, who was one of the contestants in the show.
Much to my delight it was Sarah who was playing the role of Nancy in the performance we saw and I must say she was excellent, and I was not overly disappointed not to have seen Jodie, althouth she has been getting rave reviews.
The role of Oliver is shared by three boys and our Oliver was Laurence Jeffcoate, he was very good but is totally outshone by the Dodger, who could really only be played by a boy with singing and dancing experience. Again this role is shared by three boys and I am unsure who we saw, but would imagine they are all equally good. Not the Oliver's fault as Dodger is a far better character.
Rowan Atkinson is Fagin - not an obvoius choice you may think at first, but he was wonderful in the role, very cleverly bringing a touch of Mr Bean in to some scenes, without detracting anything from the role. I particulary liked the scene where he is counting his riches and the subsequent conversation between Ruby and Pearl! The eagle eyed may also spot his Teddy during the Be Back Soon song, although my husband missed it as there was so much going on at that point.
There are some big numbers - Who Will Buy and Consider Yourself - which are done very cleverly with the scenery and choreographed fantastically well. I thought the change of scenery and recreation of location was excellently done.
We could not get top price seats for this show, and there was some action that happened on the front of the stage that we could not see very well, so be aware of that - although with high demand for seats it is worth taking what you can get in order to see it.
I must also sing the praises of Bullseye who is a bit of a scene stealer!
I thought this was a good, fun, family show with good casting, however in my opinion the film version cannot be beaten.
Oliver! was one of my favourite musicals when i was a child and i knew all the words to every song without truly understanding issues such as Nancy's job!
In February I went to see to the musical in London's West End at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
I am a huge theatre fanatic and have seen the majority of the musicals currently plaing in the West End.
During the search for the role of Nancy on "I'd do Anything!" I had been a supporter of Jodie Prenger from the start of the show. I was delighted that she was playing Nancy when we saw the show as sadly she does not play every performance. She does not play Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Jodie was every bit as good as I had hoped for. Her confidence has definately built up and her singing was fantastic. She even has the accent down to a t!
There is no guarantee of who the Oliver will be when you go due the legisaltion on child actors. Mean as it may sound, I was really not a fan of Gwyon - much to our joy he wasn't Oliver when we went.
The most notable performances in the show were the Artful Dodger and Fagin. The Artful Dodger definately outshines Oliver in "Consider Yourself" and provided one of the best child performances I have ever seen.
Fagin is portrayed by Rown Atkinson - an outstanding comedian, but any good as Fagin? He was truly remarkable! He brings a slightly different, more humerous side to the character and gave an outstanding performance. Teddy from the Mr Bean series also makes an appearance!
The one criticism I have of the show was that I felt the second half was slightly skimmed over and any Oliver fan will notice the missing scenes.
The musical is much darker than the films and is perhaps truer to Dickens novel than the films have been.
The songs and dances are what it's all about. "Consider yourself" was an amazing performance - I don't think I have ever seen so many people on one stage!! "Who will buy" and "Reviewing the situation" were also fantastic performances.
Whether you are a musical fan or not, I am convinced Oliver will have you singing along and you'll be swept away with the story!
I would encourage people to check the performance schedule at this website before booking to ensure you are seeing who you want as my parents purchased their tickets believing they would see Jodie perform but she wasn't. http://www.oliverthemusical.com/times_and_prices/
Across from the theatre is a mexcian restaurant which offers half price meals if you are going to see Oliver. Me and my partner went there and the meal was delicious! I would recommend this to any mexican fans for a pre-theatre meal.
I have had a long-standing fear of going to London, but on March 3rd this year, I overcame it for one great reason - I saw my first ever West End musical. Eight months or so ago, we managed to get tickets for Row N in the Stalls and now, here we were - me, my eighteen-year-old daughter and my friend Jayne - waiting for the show to start...
Oliver! is at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, which is a lovely theatre with reasonably priced souvenirs and concessions. Some tickets are still available, but watch out for which dates the stars are performing, as both Jodie Prenger and Rowan Atkinson have holidays booked and Omid Djalili takes over as Fagin later in the year.
We paid £60 each for our tickets and had picked a Tuesday evening when both Jodie and Rowan were scheduled to perform. We had followed Jodie through the whole 'I'll Do Anything' search for a Nancy and she had been our favourite throughout, so we were looking forward to seeing her.
My daughter and I had a favourite Oliver from the TV series - the little blond Welsh boy, Gwion - and as we walked into the theatre, I spotted a board saying that evening's cast members. I noticed Gwion's name straight away, so was very happy with that. Rowan was listed as Fagin, the rather sexy Burn Gorman (Torchwood's Owen Harper) as Bill Sikes - good, good. But then, I realised - no Jodie! After some enquiries, we discovered she was off ill and we were going to see Tamsin Carroll as Nancy instead. Not a great start. Oh well.
Would the show still be a good one?
Well, it was, it was excellent - although we never quite took to Tamsin Carroll as Nancy! (Tamsin shares the role with Jodie, so should have been good enough, but we felt she was lacking something.) The rest of the cast was really good and we were completely drawn into it all, so the show seemed to go by really quickly and we definitely came out wanting more! (Pun intended!)
The set was amazing, but quite hard to describe. There were mobile stages which meant the action could take place on street level or above (like on the bridge) or below (in Fagin's den). The backdrops also swung round, to change the scenery. It was extremely clever and worked brilliantly to help the atmosphere.
At one point, the set got its own round of applause - and quite rightly! Oliver and the Artful Dodger are standing at street level near a pothole, when the street ruses and underneath, there is Fagin's den - wonderfully intricate with beds for the boys, colourful handkerchiefs and scarves, a heater and a staircase. The boys open the potholes, come down the stairs and are in the den. Fantastic!
It is at this point that we see our first glimpse of the undisputed star of the show - Rowan Atkinson as Fagin. From the first time he appears, your eyes are drawn to him. He displays all the facets of the character - the dark side, the gentler side, his love of possessions, his manipulative nature, his selfishness, his campness! Rowan is Fagin in every respect and uses all his great skills in acting and physical comedy to command the stage beautifully. I have been going to the theatre for over thirty years and I can honestly say this was the best single performance I have ever seen. I can't praise him highly enough. I loved it!
Gwion Wyn Jones is a cute and cherubic Oliver and performs very well, with a beautiful voice. In the 'Consider Yourself' scene, he is upstaged by the Artful Dodger, but otherwise puts on a confident and endearing performance and will hopefully have a long and successful career.
Burn Gorman is a tough and menacing Bill Sikes, though I was slightly disappointed with his musical number. He certainly does it well, but I found myself concentrating again on Rowan's Fagin, who was just sitting to one side, doing very little! In the later scenes though, Burn fully inhabited the role and became much more frightening.
I was surprised the stage play is much darker than the film version we know and love. This stage Oliver! is much closer to the original Dickens text in that respect and this is encompassed in the character of Mr. Sowerberry, the undertaker, played by Julian Bleach.
Most of you will not recognise the actor's name or face, but Julian Bleach played Davros in last year's Doctor Who finale and was also a frightening Ghost Maker in Torchwood. He has a wonderfully versatile voice and a face which seems to change for each role. He later appears in Oliver! as Dr. Grimwig and I didn't recognise him until he spoke! He's an extremely talented character actor.
The song and dance numbers are, of course, a big part of this musical and are beautifully executed. I enjoyed all of them, although Tamsin Carroll's rendition of 'As Long As He Needs Me' seemed to lack credibility.
The highlight for me was a song I'm not so familiar with - 'Reviewing the Situation' by Rowan Atkinson. His vocal ability is very good (though not perfect), but his performance was so convincing, it felt like it was just you and him in the theatre and you were having a one-to-one conversation.
I loved the whole show and would definitely go again, if I had the opportunity. To round off a wonderful night, we waited at the stage door and got to meet Rowan Atkinson, who signed our programme and posed for a photo with my daughter.
Well worth the price of the ticket!
Web links -
The soundtrack CD is out to buy on March 16th and you can pre-order it from Amazon UK for £8.98.
My husband and I recently had a 4 night holiday to London and although we had various things we wanted to see and do in London the main reason for visiting was because we had booked tickets to go and see the musical Oliver! in London. I had first became aware of the musical opening after watching the television series "I'd Do Anything" which was the show where the public could chose the Nancy they wanted and also the Oliver's (they had 3 because they are young) were chosen too. I knew as soon as I had seen the show that I wanted to go, last year we went to London and had seen both The Sound of Music and Joseph and I had enjoyed both of them.
We booked our tickets through seetickets.com (which is one of the recommended ticket agencies) back in November and even then ticket availability on some nights was limited for the good seats. We paid £60 each for our tickets (plus £2 booking fee) and were seated in the Grand Circle.
The show opened to the public on the12th December 2008 although the official press night was on the14th January 2009. The musical which was written by Lionel Bart is produced by Cameron Mackintosh and being staged at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London. The musical Oliver was previously last shown at the Palladium back in 1994. Most people know the story of Oliver! Which is based on Charles Dickens Oliver Twist about the little boy who asked for more. It is packed with well known and well loved songs including "Food Glorious Food", "Consider yourself" and "I'd do anything" to name but a few.
The main characters in the cast are -
Fagin - Rowan Atkinson
Nancy - Jodie Prenger (Alternate Nancy is Tamsin Carroll)
Oliver - Gwion Jones, Harry Stott or Laurence Jeffcoate
Bill Sikes - Burn Gorman
Artful Dodger - Eric Dibb Fuller, Robert Madge or Ross McCormack
After a nice meal in a nearby little Italian Restaurant we made our way to join the crowds heading into the theatre. Outside a ticket tout was offering to buy and sell tickets but we quickly walked past, nothing was going to separate me from my Oliver ticket! Inside they were doing a roaring trade on Oliver merchandise with everything from t-shirts saying "I'd do anything!" to cuddly Bulls eye the dog toys. I was disappointed to see they didn't have a CD of the songs with the current cast, if they had then I would have been tempted to buy. Instead we bought a programme for £3.50 and a souvenir brochure for £6. Very glossy but a bit expensive but it's a nice souvenir and gives you something to read whilst waiting for the show to start.
We headed in to take our seats, stopping off at the toilets on the way. Little note here for the ladies, come early as there was a huge queue and only 4 toilets on the floor we were on. Still we made our way to the seats in time and sat in anticipation waiting for the show to start.
The Theatre Royal Drury Lane is a really grand and impressive theatre it was really large and from what I could see was pretty much full. There are as I later discovered toilets on each floor and also a few little bars selling drinks. During the interval ice-cream is also sold for £3 a tub, the chocolate one is nice! Before long the curtain was lifted and the music began and then from high up on the stage, from the sides and up from the orchestra the children came marching on. And so the show continued grabbing your attention and keeping you entertained right the way through with great singing, acting, dancing, excitement, horror and humour. In three simple words - I loved it!
The cast in this show are really strong and make the musical the success it is. Special mention really has to be made to Rowan Atkinson in his portrayal of Fagin, he really is spectacular. Cameron Mackintosh must be congratulating himself on managing to persuade Rowan Atkinson to finally agree to do the role (it took him 15 years to eventually agree!) even if it is only until July 18th. He really brings the character alive and adds a sense of comedy to the role which I had never really noticed from watching Oliver on television or from amateur productions I've seen. He also brings a few of Mr Bean's peculiarities to the character and one of Mr Beans "accessories" makes a special appearance and no it's not his car! I do have to point out that he doesn't do the whole character as Mr Bean he only makes a few passing references to it to add to the humour. His transformation into the character is quite amazing, I read an article about it and he has actually shaved his head so that they can glue a cap and wig to his head. It takes 45 minutes every day to get all his make-up done and he really does end up looking like a rather shifty character.
I have to admit that Jodi Prenger was not my favourite choice of Nancy when I initially started watching the television show. However out of the final two I did think that Jodi was the better person for the role. In the time between the television show finishing and the musical opening Jodi has been working hard though. Her voice has improved significantly and is much stronger. She came across as a really believable Nancy character being able to show all the characteristics required, feisty, friendly, loving to the boys, independent and fun and all the while speaking and singing in a believable cockney accent. Her singing conveyed real emotion especially in "As long as he needs me" and her sense of fun comes shining through in the uplifting and raucous "Oom Pah Pah."
There are three Oliver's this is because of their young age they are not allowed to do every show. The Oliver who was performing on the night we were in was Lawrence. He had a good voice, good acting skills and came over quite sweet but was outperformed by the Artful Dodger whose cheeky character has all the great lines and laughs. I think that although the show is called Oliver the other characters are more colourful and steal the limelight. However they all do work well together and make the musical a great success. Along with the three Oliver's and three Artful Dodgers there are three teams of children with 32 in each team, the Farthings, Shillings and Tanners who rotate the performances to meet with the laws governing children working. To manage to train this number of children is really quite amazing. However although there are 32 children in the opening sequences later on in Fagin's gang there are only around 10.
Bill Sikes is played by Burn Gorman who was seemingly on the BBC's Torchwood series but I haven't seen any of them. He came across as a rather scary and intimidating person. He also had his dog Bulls eye, a real dog who makes a few appearances and at one point runs across the stage himself.
** Times **
The performances are at 7.30pm on Mondays to Saturdays. There is a matinee performance on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2.30pm.
Rowan Atkinson is appearing as Fagin until the 18th of July 2009 however he is on holiday from 26th March to 5th April so if you want to go to see him especially watch out for those dates.
Jodie Prenger is scheduled to appear as Nancy on all performances apart from Wednesday and Thursday evenings when Tamsin Carroll will play the role of Nancy.
The Oliver's are not decided until the day so you have to take what you get!
Obviously changes in schedules can be made due to sickness but I am sure you will enjoy the performance whoever plays the role.
** Prices **
Well as for any theatre in London prices are not cheap and this is one show you are unlikely to get many special discount prices. Seats are priced from £17.50 up to £60. There are reductions for groups of over 10 people if going for a Mon-Thurs performance.
** Reviews **
The musical has been receiving rave reviews and some of the things the press have said (in much fewer words than me!) about the musical include -
"Blast away all those recession cobwebs. Anyone who needs cheering up should get along to Drury Lane sharpish and catch this humdinger of a night." Daily Mail
"Fresh, exuberant and spiritually full of beans. A little bit scary, a lot of fun. A rip-roaring success." Independent on Sunday.