Oliver! King's Lynn

“Please Sir, I want some more!” is among the most famous quotations in English literature, and the words from the original Dickens novel open Lionel Bart's Oliver!, one of our most popular and enduring stage musicals.

By RICHARD PARR

“Please Sir, I want some more!” is among the most famous quotations in English literature, and the words from the original Dickens novel open Lionel Bart's Oliver!, one of our most popular and enduring stage musicals.

The King's Lynn Players presented this well-known rags-to-riches story, and what a theatrical triumph it proved to be on Wednesday's opening night.

A talented cast of principals and a troupe of delightful, well-drilled children rose to the challenge of staging a new interpretation of the story that features so many memorable musical numbers, accompanied by musicians under the direction of Samantha Ashby.

It's no easy task tackling a show with which so many among the audience will be familiar.

But director Carol Beveridge and producer Sharon Fox created a show that had a freshness about it while still retaining the elements that have enchanted audiences worldwide.

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The wide-eyed innocence of Oliver John was just right for the title role, and his singing of the plaintive Where Is Love? tugged at the heart strings. Paul Davis was the archetypal Artful Dodger with the right mix of streetwise confidence and warmth, and his duets with Oliver in Consider Yourself and I'd Do Anything were wonderful.

Veteran actor Geoff Wilkinson gave everything to his favourite role of Fagin, creating a finely-drawn characterisation of the lovable old rogue. He established an enchanting rapport with the youngsters, notably in Pick a Pocket or Two and Be Back Soon.

The flame-haired Caroline Sheppard gave a wonderful performance as Nancy, the tart with a heart, her strong, powerful voice lending itself admirably to such numbers as As Long As He Needs Me and and It's a Fine Life.

Chris Fox, while perhaps appearing too clean-cut as the brutish Bill Sykes, was suitably menacing with his bull terrier by his side.

There were some delightful cameos, particularly from the veteran partnership of Stan Turner as Mr Bumble and the wonderful Louise Smith as Widow Corney. They were a hoot in I Shall Scream.

The expansive stage area was used to full effect with painted backcloths, effective lighting and minimalist sets designed for slick changes.

The show was also notable for its attention to detail, including animated crowd scenes and the working lamps on London Bridge.

t Oliver! continues at King's Lynn Corn Exchange tonight, October 5, and tomorrow at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

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