14 Dec, 2011
Advent activity #4 – Oliver at the NAC
The NAC (a Fishbowl patron) was kind enough to give us four tickets for the opening night of Oliver, so the girls and I brought my mother-in-law with us for a night out. And what a night it was. Are you familiar with the story of Oliver? I was only able to remember the most basic of details… a little boy who was mistreated in the orphanage in which he lived. He was the starving lad who dared ask for more, and after a series of events, found himself living with a gang of pickpockets. And that was about all I could remember of the story of Oliver Twist.
As I sat there it slowly came back to me. Peter Hinton, the artistic director of the NAC, reminded the audience that the story, written by Charles Dickens in the 1800s and first published in serial format, first caused an uproar because it served as a huge reminder of child labour practices and poverty in London. In fact, Queen Victoria was advised not to read it.
Hinton reminded us that poverty, especially among children, is still a very real issue. And it is with this that the lights dimmed and the show began.
We all enjoyed the NAC’s production of Oliver Twist very much. There were some great performances. Most notable in my memory was Joey Tremblay who played Fagin, and Julie Tamiko Manning who had the role of Nancy. They practically stole the show away from Thomas Olajide, a sympathetic fellow who played Oliver. He had great expressions and body language – he really did manage to look like an orphan who was starving for love just as much as he was starving for something to fill his belly – but his singing ability was not as captivating as I had hoped it would be given the fact that he was the title character.
Surprisingly, I recognized several tunes along the way. Consider Yourself, I’d Do Anything, It’s a Fine Life, Oom Pah Pah … somehow, even though I’ve never seen this show before, these songs have entered into my cultural subconscious.
And Oom Pah Pah has not left my brain since. Ack.
It is a very good family-friendly show. British accents took some getting used to (I found myself checking to make sure the girls knew what a magistrate was, and a pauper) and it was also surprising to see Oliver being played by an adult. (The imagery that advertises this production shows a picture of a little boy.) Oh well. We got over this quickly enough, and it’s really not that important.
What IS important that the girls were on the edge of their seats for the entire time. They really enjoyed themselves, and we all walked out of the theatre singing about food, glorious food. (Or at least I was). :)
Oliver is on until the end of the year. It would make a really great outing or a Christmas gift for that special family you know. You can read more about it on the NAC website.
Now that we’ve seen the play, I’m thinking that the film version might make a great holiday rental. Check out the trailer (love the idea of Ben Kingsley as Fagin!):
This post is part of my 25 days of Christmas advent activities (although I’m actually doing only 12 this year). You can read more about the countdown calendar idea here.