EMAV Review: Consider yourself at home with 'Oliver!'

★★★☆☆ - Satisfying

Consider yourself at home with Lionel Bart's classic musical based on Charles Dickens' novel, “Oliver Twist”. Signature Productions takes the audience on a wildly satisfying, Three-Star adventure through Victorian England.

Many have come to know the general story of Oliver Twist via the Tony and Olivier Award-winner which premiered in 1960 in London, and was made into a successful motion picture in 1968 -- one of the few musicals to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.

The curtain opens on the multi-level interior of the workhouse with bare dining tables. Pale-faced wretches file in singing "Food, Glorious Food". Widow Corney, who runs the workhouse, and Mr. Bumble, the parish beadle (a minor parish officer dealing with petty offenders), enter to serve gruel to the boys. Alone amongst them, Oliver takes his bowl to Bumble and asks, "Please, Sir, I want some more." Bumble is so outraged that he parades Oliver through the streets of London singing "Boy For Sale." Oliver is sold to Mr. Sowerberry, the undertaker. Alone, plaintive and surrounded by coffins, Oliver sings, "Where Is Love?"

Oliver escapes to London and finds acceptance amongst a group of petty thieves and pickpockets led by the elderly Fagin. When Oliver is captured for a theft that he did not commit, the benevolent victim, Mr. Brownlow takes him in. Fearing the safety of his hideout, Fagin employs the sinister Bill Sikes and the sympathetic Nancy to kidnap him back, threatening Oliver’s chances of discovering the true love of a family.

As an orphan and a pauper, Oliver’s fate is more or less sealed from birth: social forces appear poised to keep him in a "low" position forever. But as it turns out, he is actually the lost relative of Mr. Brownlow, a middle class gentleman. The grand question is which fate will determine the course of Oliver's life: the fate of the pauper, or the fate of the gentleman? Oliver struggles to maintain his goodness against seemingly insurmountable odds, and manages to do so.