Leaving The Audience asking for more… (please sir)
Directed by the talented Andrew Walter the show brings Charles Dickens' classic tale to life with heart-warming melodies and enthralling performances.
Is it a cliché that as you get older you begin to favour the antagonist? It happened with Miss Trunchbull, Miss Hannigan, Ursula, Cruella de Vil, and Draco Malfoy… no? Just me? Maybe I’m just in my villain era, but Steve Mellin's sensational portrayal of the ‘meany’ – otherwise known as the charmingly devious Fagin – stole the spotlight for me, capturing the essence of Fagin's iconic and cunning allure which earned him his temporary fortune. He became a magnetic force on stage, leaving the audience pondering the timeless fascination with characters who walk the fine line between villainy and a captivating personality.
The character-rich ensemble was led by the talented Freddie Crawshaw as Oliver Twist, a strong and emotionally resonant role supported by a cast that flawlessly embodied the essence of Dickensian London. As fantastic of a night it provided, it wouldn't be opening night without a few unexpected hiccups. The keen-eyed observer might have noticed a couple of minor snags, such as cue misses and fleeting mic errors, however what truly impressed was the cast and crew's seamless recovery, transforming potential stumbling blocks into moments of grace.
Nancy, played by Nicola Taylor, further elevated the production with her stunning voice and compelling performance. These undeniable chemistry between the characters added a depth to the narrative, immersing the audience into an honest and genuinely emotional story which felt authentic from start to finish.
A personal favourite song from the film, and a track I was eagerly waiting on throughout was the harmonic ‘Who Will Buy’ which was beautifully portrayed. A particular standout from this performance was the strawberry seller Charlotte Coyne, whose gorgeous voice effortlessly brought the captivating melody to life with a grace and poise.
While I’m sure the absence of Bullseye was felt by the dog-lovers in the audience, the iconic and notoriously intimidating Bill Sikes portrayed by Andy Blagrove was just perfect. His powerful stage presence and brooding demeanour did justice to the character, echoing the spirit of Oliver Reed's legendary rendition while adding a unique flair of its own.
From stellar casting choices to beautiful musical arrangements, OXOPS' production captured this Dickensian delight leaving the audience asking for more… MORE?
So why not come and 'pick a ticket or two' and join OXOPS as they take to the stage to put on this much-loved classic?
Oliver is at Oxford’s New Theatre until 3 February.