Newest Review: ... 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 exce... more
I'm a convert
Member Name: laukez
Advantages: Pretty much everything in the show
Disadvantages: Slightly unconvincing Bill Sykes
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.
Summary: One of the best West End shows I've seen
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