Theatre Review: Oliver!, Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

Image Source: Epstein Theatre

One of the classic tales from the big screen is Oliver! It’s a timeless musical, with an easy story to follow, and it is a snapshot of its time given that it was released in cinemas back in the 1960s, and that the original story was actually written way back in the 1830s. The world has changed a lot since then, but people’s appetites for the all-time great musical stories will never waver, and Oliver! is a prime example of this.

As a result, it is always good to see Oliver! again and again, no matter what format that might take. And the latest version brings Oliver! back to the stage, that being the stage of Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre. Indeed, LHK Youth Theatre – essentially an off-shoot of LHP Productions – brought this story to life once again in front of a captive local audience, and it’s safe to say that those on hand were overjoyed by what they saw.

If you have ever seen an LHK Productions show (in particular one of their outstanding pantomimes), you will know that light-hearted fun is at the centre of what they produce. The same applies to LHK Youth Theatre, which is a chance to sit back, relax and laugh as you witness the crazy shenanigans that this particular story offers in line with the fun nature of the LHK team. Because it is LHK Youth Theatre, it becomes even more impressive when you consider that for many of those involved, this likely marked their first major show, and the cast as a whole shone throughout. All involved threw themselves whole-heartedly into their roles, further enhancing the entertainment value of the production.

Another staple of LHK shows are the high-quality, authentic settings. That was again the case here, as we were taken back in time to London town from what is almost a bygone era. This can be hard enough for nationally-touring companies to achieve, but not only do LHK manage to pull this tricky task off, they do so with aplomb. It wasn’t just the backdrops that caught the eye, though, but also the costumes, which also paid homage to the vintage characters from the story such as Fagin, The Artful Dodger and, of course, Oliver Twist himself.

And then there are the songs. The strength of any musical is its soundtrack, and Oliver! delivers one catchy tune after another. Those who have seen the movie will know what I’m talking about, but even if you haven’t, the likes of Food, Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, I’d Do Anything and Oom Pah Pah are songs that people will be singing forever more, and they all play a vital role in this particular show. Even the regular dialogue is unforgettable, not least the famous line of “Please, sir, can I have some more?” Of course, it’s one thing to have the songs on tap but they need to be performed to the required standard, and that was the case here with some topnotch singing, backed up by dancing that was true to the tale and did not veer off into unnecessary tangents.

Summing this up, Oliver! was a triumph for LHK Youth Theatre. The team are auditioning this Sunday for The Addams Family (click here for further details), but in the meantime, they can “consider themselves” to have successfully recreated one of the great British musical tales of the past century.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent