Theatre Review: Oliver! (return season)

Rod Schultz as Fagin

Adelaide audiences are getting a second serving of his highly acclaimed and very successful 2013 version of Oliver! by the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of SA.


Rod Schultz as Fagin

Rod Schultz as Fagin

Presented by G & S Society
Reviewed 31 January 2014

“Please, Sir! I want some more!” This now famous and oft spoken plea, when asked of Mr Bumble by Oliver Twist, is always met with shock and a negative response. But, when asked of David Lampard, and concerning whether Adelaide audiences can have a second serving of his highly acclaimed and very successful 2013 version of Oliver!, the answer, thankfully, was in the positive.

This reviewer admits to being apprehensive when asked to review this return season, as he had already reviewed it for Glam Adelaide the first time around, and was concerned that too much of a good thing might disappoint. This is not the case!

What impressed, production-wise, the first time around all seem even more effective and powerful this time around: Lampard’s direction, choreography and production design; Daniel Barber’s lighting; Matthew Curtis’s sound; and Mark Wickett’s projections.

Musical Director, Peter Johns, had a wonderful orchestra last time, but the magnificent sounds issuing from the orchestra pit for this production are comparable to that of the Adelaide Arts Orchestra. Johns seems to have tweaked the arrangements and vocals slightly more this time, giving a wonderful Broadway quality to the score.

Rod Schultz (Fagin), Paul Talbot (Bill Sikes) and Emma Bargery (Nancy) have all taken their superlative characterisations from the last version and, somehow, added even more depth to their performances; whilst Damien Quick seems even more energetic and delightfully nastier as undertaker’s apprentice Noah Claypole.

Reprising the title character on opening night, Jack Raftopoulos has grown, not only in height, but in stage presence and vocally. His rendition of the song Where Is Love will once more give audiences a lump in their throats and (perhaps) a tear in their eyes. Joshua Spiniello has graduated from playing Charlie Bates to The Artful Dodger and delivers well.

There are some new cast members this time, managing to blend in with varying degrees of success: Andrew Crispe is wonderful as Dr Grimwig and ‘I’ll eat my head’ if he doesn’t raise some laughs; Roslyn Lock is good as Widow Corney, but her vocals, while impressively operatic, are too strong for the character; whereas Nicolas Lock’s (Mr Bumble) aren’t strong enough, especially for the song Boy For Sale.

It is a credit to the original cast members that this version does not feel like a return run but rather a continuation of the July 2013 season.

What makes this G & S Society version stand out from others is Lampard’s departure from the traditional to give his production a more Dickensian, Victorian England Music Hall feel which, for the most part, works.

If you enjoyed this Oliver! the first time round, try to see it again – you won’t be disappointed. If you missed out, then here’s your chance to experience a show, glorious show.

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey

Venue: Arts Theatre 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 31 January-8 February 2014
Duration: 3 hours, including intermission
Tickets: $25.00 – $38.00
Bookings: Email [email protected], ring 8447 7239 or book online through the G&S Society’s website.


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