The current NETworks Presentations, LLC non-Equity tour of Oliver! will play Raleigh Memorial Auditorium April 27-May 2 as part of the Broadway Series South Encore Series. This touring version of Oliver! is a scaled-down (but still large-scale) version of the critically acclaimed 1994 London Palladium production produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Sam Mendes.
Oliver! is loosely based on 19th-century English novelist Charles Dickens' 1838 novel Oliver Twist, which excoriates the twin evils of forced child labor in the workhouse and cruel child exploitation in the London underworld. The late Lionel Bart's 1960 West End and 1963 Broadway hit musical adaptation of Oliver Twist is one of the masterpieces of modern musical theater. Its hit songs include "Food, Glorious Food," "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two," "Consider Yourself," "As Long as He Needs Me," "I'd Do Anything," and "Where Is Love?" Indeed, a Daily Variety critic once claimed, "Oliver! has a score that invites adults and children to hum happily along."
Oliver! debuted at the New Theatre in London's West End on June 30, 1960. It ran for 2,618 performances!
The show made its Broadway debut at the Imperial Theatre on Jan. 6, 1963, later transferred to Shubert Theatre, and ran for 774 performances before closing on Nov. 14, 1964. The opening-night cast included Bruce Prochnik as the plucky organ Oliver Twist; Clive Revill as underworld kingpin Fagin; future Monkee David Jones as The Artful Dodger, a pickpocket nonpareil; Danny Sewell as the murderous drunken Bill Sikes; and Georgia Brown as poor Nancy, Sikes' much-abused sweetheart and Oliver's dearest friend in Fagin's gang. The original Broadway production won three 1963 Tony Awards®, including honors for Best Composer and Lyricist (Lionel Bart).
The 1968 motion-picture version of Oliver! — directed by Carol Reed — starred Mark Lester as Oliver, Ron Moody as Fagin, and Jack Wild as The Artful Dodger. Moody and Wild earned two of the film's 11 1969 Academy Award® nominations. Oliver! won five Oscars, including the awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Music, Score of a Musical Picture (Original or Adaptation).
According to Playbill Magazine, Cameron Mackintosh's 1994 London Palladium revival was a "slightly revised, slightly darker" version of the international hit. Director Sam Mendes and Oliver! composer, lyricist, and librettist Lionel Bart (1930-99) added new dialogue from the novel and Bart penned some new music and lyrics.
The current 35-week tour directed by Graham Gill and choreographed by Jeff Garrett features the 1994 orchestrations by William David Brohn, plus new sets by Adrian Vaux, new costumes by Anthony Ward, and new lighting by Jenny Kagan. Playbill says, "The company (on stage and off) totals 82."
The tour stars Justin S. Pereira as Oliver, Mark McCracken as Fagin, Andrew Blau as The Artful Dodger, Shane R. Tanner as Bill Sikes, and Renata Reneé Wilson as Nancy.
The National Tour of "Oliver! will steal your heart," claims Roy Proctor of the Richmond, Virginia Times-Dispatch. He adds, "From its 'Food, Glorious Food' anthem sung by the workhouse urchins in the opening minutes through Mark McCracken's reprise of Fagin's showstopping 'Reviewing the Situation' in the finale, this large-scale production — the cast numbers 40 — offers a lot to enjoy."
Broadway Series South presents Oliver! Tuesday-Friday, April 27-30, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 1, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 2, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $19.50-$26. BTI Box Office: 919/831-6060. Group Rates: 919/231-4575, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.priorityseating.net/. Broadway Series South: http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/2003-2004/encore.html#oliver. Oliver! (Tour): http://www.oliverontour.com/intro.html. Cameron Mackintosh: http://www.cameronmackintosh.com/oliver.html [inactive 10/04]. Internet Broadway Database: http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=6726. Internet Movie Database (1968 Film): http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0063385/. Oliver Twist (University of Virginia E-text of the Novel): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/DicOliv.html.