NC Theatre's Oliver! is catchy and charismatic, but lacks realist edge | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Friday, July 20, 2012

NC Theatre's Oliver! is catchy and charismatic, but lacks realist edge

Posted by on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Sam Poon in the title role of NC Theatres Oliver!
OLIVER!
* * * stars (out of five)
NC Theatre
Through July 22 @ Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh

It’s not really a surprise that Charles Dickens’ larger-than-life characters, comic settings and twist-filled plots would make for good musical theater, though it is a bit odd to find his novels, with such focus on class strife, transmuted into family-friendly entertainment. Oliver!, the Tony-award winning musical based on Dickens’s Oliver Twist and playing through Sunday at the North Carolina Theatre, is emblematic of Broadway’s tendency to elevate emotional spectacle over social critique.

Containing a number of catchy songs and charismatic performances, director Richard Stafford’s production follows the familiar tale of the 19th-century orphan Oliver Twist (Sam Poon) and his adventures around London. Broadway veteran Kevin Gray brings wit and charm to sleazy thief Fagin, and Clayton native Nicholas Craft is great as young pickpocket the Artful Dodger. The set, a giant block of rotating buildings, is the exactly the sort of thing you’d like to see in a big musical production.

However, Oliver! simplifies much of the danger of the novel’s criminal world. Fagin is more clown than threat, and the London underworld never feels very dangerous. There are exceptions: Crime boss Bill Sykes (Stephen Tewksbury) is menacing, and there’s a subplot involving his abused girlfriend (Heather Patterson King) that feels lifted from a much darker play.

If this show's general levity is a flaw, it’s a flaw built into the genre himself. Certainly there is much humor in the source material, but the big-budgeted musical’s need to provide spectacle and entertainment unfortunately elides more trenchant material about class and poverty.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

Wow. I guess you can't recognize brilliant satire when you see it. This was an amazing performance that if you …

by Sam Bayer on ADF Review: Hillel Kogan's We Love Arabs Lags Behind a Cultural Conversation Already Well Underway in Our Region's Performing Arts Scene (Arts)

The photo in this article is of Jackson Cooper and Katie Barrett, as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, not of …

by David Akiva Klionsky on Theater Review: The Amusing Tea with Edie & Fitz Strains to Make Hay From a Gin-Soaked Dust-Up Between Edith Wharton and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Arts)

Most Recent Comments

Wow. I guess you can't recognize brilliant satire when you see it. This was an amazing performance that if you …

by Sam Bayer on ADF Review: Hillel Kogan's We Love Arabs Lags Behind a Cultural Conversation Already Well Underway in Our Region's Performing Arts Scene (Arts)

The photo in this article is of Jackson Cooper and Katie Barrett, as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, not of …

by David Akiva Klionsky on Theater Review: The Amusing Tea with Edie & Fitz Strains to Make Hay From a Gin-Soaked Dust-Up Between Edith Wharton and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Arts)

Thanks for the nice article and acknowledgement, Byron. I would like to put a gentle dedication out to my father, …

by RKlem on Common Ground Theatre Is Gone, But Some of Its Resources and Its Role Live on in Walltown Children's Theatre (Arts)

I thought it was a great movie. The acting was believable, special effects were good, story was balanced and the …

by Cat Jackson on Movie Review: In King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Guy Ritchie Gets Medieval on Our Collective Asses (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation