2012 Oliver!


Dramaturgieal Information about Dickens‘ Oliver!
Oliver! first opened on Broadway on January 6, 1963 and ran for 774 performances (nabbing ten Tony Award nominations), following a very successful West End production.
Many years and an Oscar-winning film version later, Oliver! is still a smash hit (the new West End revival is slated to officially open in January).
Loosely based upon Charles Dickens‘ 1838 novel, “Oliver Twist” this musical adaptation, with a score by Lionel Bart, tells the story of an innocent orphan boy bom into poverty and misfortune in Victorian London. Dickens uses his Story as a platform to criticize the Poor Laws of 1834 (the poverty relief system under which Oliver is poorly provided for), and explores poverty and social class of nineteenth-century industrial England.
The characters are aptly names to symbolize their persona, as many writer of the Restoration Comedy era would do: Oliver, though marked as a lowly orphan and named according to an alphabetical system is , in fact, “all of a twist,” for instance. Dickens utilizes the major paradoxical theme of good versus evil (personified through the characters of Mr. Brownlow and Fagin) as well as crime and punishment, and sin and redemption throughout the story. However, the plot of Dickens‘ original novel is considerably simplified for the purposes of the musical, with Fagin represented as more of a comical character than as a villain, and large portions of the latter part of the story left out completely. Though dark and grim, a fairy tale also appears: in the midst of filth and fraud, Oliver remains pure-hearted, refraining for the evils surrounding him. This makes every act of goodness he is shown seem that much more poignant. Born for a better life, he survives the neglectful, brutal world of the underclass before finally rescued by his family and retumed to his proper place.
One of the most beloved musicals of our time, the etemal story of young Oliver Twist will surely leave you begging for more. Rachel Sussman, Dramaturg Village Players of Birmingham

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