OLIVER, now playing at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, is an adaptation of Charles Dickens beloved classic about a young orphan who starts off in a workhouse, meets a vagabond group of boys and ends with a new family in Victorian London. The show is filled with extravagant dance numbers and exciting songs written by Lionel Bart.
Scenic design by Mark Morton was grand and elaborate. The main rotating structure was used for multiple locations which were integrated well and not at all confusing. Other smaller pieces popped out for places such as the two-story London house. Costume designer, Amanda Seymour, did a lovely job with making the boys look scruffy and dirty. She also gave the women wonderful dresses with tulle petticoats. Tights, shoes and accessories were all thought out and nothing was missing.
David Garrison who played Fagin was my favorite. He was engaging with the children and adults on stage, as well as the audience. His silly dance moves and quirky behaviour won me over. Betsy Morgan who played Nancy seemed to be trying too hard and her phrasing was odd. She sang some powerful notes but I wasn’t attached to her portrayal of the role and wish I could have been since Nancy is an iconic leading lady. The ensemble of boys were charming and I loved all the big dance numbers. There were a few questions in my mind such as “why are there clowns?” in “Who Will Buy?” but they were easily dismissed due to the other exhilarating things taking place on stage.
In the midst of a fun night at the theater, you can’t entirely look past the sadness of what was going on for these young orphans who had no one they could trust. For more information check out: http://www.papermill.org/
Rating: To Be