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Oliver!

From Academic Kids

Oliver! is a British musical, with music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. It was made into a film directed by Carol Reed.

The musical

It first appeared in the West End in 1960, and enjoyed a long run which launched the careers of several child actors including Davy Jones. The musical is based upon Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens; it was the first such adaptation of a Dickens novel, and this was one of the reasons why it attracted such attention. Another was the revolving stage set, an innovation designed by Sean Kenny.

The original London production of Oliver! opened in the New Theatre on June 30 1960. Among the original cast were Ron Moody as Fagin, Georgia Brown as Nancy, and Barry Humphries in a small role as a humourous undertaker. It may have had a strong influence on many elements in the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins.

A Broadway production opened in the Imperial Theatre on January 6 1963.

The story of the book is considerably simplified for the purposes of the musical, with Fagin being represented more as a comic character than as a villain, and large portions of the latter part of the story being completely left out. The songs include:

  • As Long As He Needs Me
  • Boy For Sale
  • Consider Yourself
  • Food, Glorious Food
  • I'd Do Anything
  • I Shall Scream
  • It's a Fine Life
  • My Name
  • Oliver
  • Oom-Pah-Pah
  • That's Your Funeral
  • Where Is Love?
  • Who Will Buy?
  • You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two

The film

In 1968, the musical was made into a film, using a mixture of young unknowns and 'big names': Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Harry Secombe, Mark Lester (Oliver), Jack Wild, and Hugh Griffith. There was a minor outcry when Shani Wallis was given the role of Nancy in preference to Georgia Brown.

The movie was adapted by Lionel Bart and Vernon Harris, and directed by Sir Carol Reed. Many of the songs from the stage production were not used in the movie.

It won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Director, Best Music, Score of a Musical Picture (Original or Adaptation), Best Picture and Best Sound. It was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Ron Moody), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jack Wild), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

1994 revival

In 1994, Oliver! was revived for the London stage with some additional music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. It was directed by Sam Mendes, and featured Jonathan Pryce as Fagin, Sally Dexter as Nancy, and Miles Anderson as Sikes.

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