Theatre Review: Oliver! at the Palace Theatre in Manchester

One thing to know about me is that I go to the theatre a lot, and I see an awful lot of professional and amateur productions every year. I enjoy most productions and can usually find good points in all of them; however, I don’t often take the time to blog about them. It takes something a little bit special to prompt me to write some sort of review about a show, and Oliver!, which is currently touring the UK and showing at the Palace Theatre in Manchester is one of those exceptions.

I don’t judge a show on its principle cast (Neil Morrissey was a suitable Fagin, Samantha Banks a fabulous, if not a little-too-beautiful Nancy, the boy playing Oliver had a fantastic voice and was suitably cute), because to be honest, I expect a principle cast to be great. I’d be very disappointed if they weren’t. It’s the production as a whole that needs to “wow” me, and that was the case with Oliver!. I seem to have developed the misguided opinion that the older classic shows are not as worth watching now because I’ve seen them a million times before. I actually only went to see this one because I was taking my Grandma as a Christmas present. However, as Oliver! showed, it is because everyone has seen it before that the production team works so hard to make it amazing – they go the extra mile to give us something different! They have clearly thought, “What will people expect to see, and what can we do even better?”

Here is a summary of my thoughts about the show:

  • I’d forgotten, but the show itself is brilliant. What an amazing soundtrack! Almost every song is a classic, from I’d do Anything and Be Back Soon to Who Will Buy and Where is Love.
  • The production itself was lavish. I’m a sucker for fabulous scenery and costumes, and Oliver! did not disappoint! I particularly loved the big outdoor London scenes.
  • The bigger numbers were fantastic! Am dram productions of Oliver! fill numbers like Consider Yourself and Oom Pah Pah with big choreographed routines, which I thought was the best way to do it. Here they simply filled every scene with business and busyness, and it was a feast for the eyes! You honestly won’t know where to look!

Oliver! is on in Manchester until 10th March, and then tours the UK for the rest of the year. This show is definitely worth watching!

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