REVIEW: Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company shines in Lionel Bart’s dark yet heart-warming musical adaptation of Oliver Twist

Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company proved exactly why the tale of Oliver Twist is timeless with its fun and energetic production.

The children oozed as much confidence as the adults in the opening night of Oliver! at Pendle Hippodrome Theatre in Colne.

Lionel Bart’s award-winning musical adaptation of the classic 1838 Dickens novel tells of an orphan boy, used and abused by the adults around him, and eventually being taken under the wing of trickster Fagin and his gang of child pickpockets.

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Bright, cheery performances abound in the Pendle Hippodrome staging, with plenty of beautiful solo vocals and harmonic ensembles from the cast. It’s hard to keep the smile from your face despite the grim subject matter and the dark, atmospheric setting suitably capturing old grubby London streets prowled by criminals.

The cast of Oliver! presented by Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company. Photo by Ian Pilkington.

At just 10-years-old, Louis Peel did a brilliant job in the leading role with his endearing depiction of Oliver, confidently singing solos, while Thomas Homer gave a lively and entertaining performance as the young thief, Artful Dodger, both no doubt making their parents proud.

Gang leader Fagin was brought to life by Steven Manley, who commanded the room with his vocals and stage presence.

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Damien Marsh was a convincingly frightening Bill Sikes and Cathryn Osborne cut a vibrant figure as Nancy, showcasing her amazing vocals.

Strong supporting performances, often with comedic touches, also came from David Hulme as Mr Bumble, Wendy Watson as Widow Corney, Alan Hargreaves (Mr Brownlow), Paul Thompson (Mr Sowberry). Vicky Royle (Mrs Sowberry), Amy Riley (Bet), Kira Royle (Charlotte), Ryan Collett (Noah Claypole), Liz Rowell (Mrs Bedwin), and Jason Morris (Dr Grimwig).

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Last but not least, we have the child ensemble with their lively, self-assured renditions of family favourites like Food, Glorious Food, Consider Yourself and I'd Do Anything, illustrating why this record-breaking musical has been warming hearts for more than 60 years.

Performances continue nightly at 7-30pm, with the final showing on Saturday evening. There is also a 2pm Saturday matinee.

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For tickets (adults £14, concessions £12), head to http://www.phtheatre.co.uk/ or call the theatre answerphone on 01282 863210, or Neil at CGF cars 01282 860854.

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