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Oliver! [1] is a 1960 British musical, with music and lyrics by writer and composer Lionel Bart (1930-1999) [2]. It first opened in the New Theatre in London in 1960.

The original text

Based on Oliver Twist, or The Parish Boy's Progress, the second novel by English writer Charles Dickens (1812-1870) [3]. The story is of the orphan Oliver Twist, who starts his life in a workhouse and is then apprenticed with an undertaker. He escapes from there and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, a member of a gang of juvenile pickpockets, which is led by the elderly criminal Fagin (Wikipedia) [4].

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1962: Staged by the Brian Brooke Company at the Brooke Theatre in February, directed by Brooke, with Christopher Voysey (Oliver), Kenneth Baker (Mr Bumble), Marjorie McConvill (Mrs Corney), Joey Wishnia (Mr Sowerberry), Eileen Lawless (Mrs Sowerberry & Mrs Bedwin), Jo-Ann Pezarro (Charlotte), Aubrey Ellis (Noah Claypole), Howard Sacks (Artful Dodger), Arne Gordon (Fagin), Judy Layne (Nancy), Wanda Renirie (Bet), Ivor van Rensburg (Bill Sikes), Gilyan Francesco (Mr Brownlow), Tini Walker (Old Sally) and others. Musical direction by Bill Walker. Some roles were played by other actors when the production subsequently went on tour, like the role of Oliver was played by Roy Quinn and also by Jeremy Fogg.

June 22, 1971: Presented by the Grey Junior School in association with The Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival. Directed and designed by Helen Mann with Musical Director Robert Selley, Chorus Master Wilhelm van der Nest and starring Terrence Scarr as Oliver Twist, with Harry Owen (Mr Bumble), Edith Porter (Mrs Corney), Sandy Nicholls (Old Sally), Philip Godawa, Leslie Speyers and Andrew Leitch the servants at the Workhouse, Trevor Hicks (Mr Sowberry), Joan Sneesby (Mrs Sowberry), Carol Owen (Charlotte), Ronald Hicks (Noah Claypole), at the Undertaker's, Roy Williams (Fagin), Barry Meyer (The Artful Dodger), Ann Fincham (Nancy), Jenny Bach (Bet), Jeremy Baylis (Bill Sykes), Bunty Richards (Bullseye), at the Thieves Kitchen, and Reg Hicks (Mr Brownlow), Alfred Porter (Dr Grimwig), and Elizabeth Shires (Mrs Bedwin).

1978: Directed by British director Geoffrey Ferris for PACT in Johannesburg.

1985-6: Presented by the Baxter Theatre starring Henry Goodman as Fagin and Marilyn Bennett as Nancy, with Peter Krummeck, Joey Wishnia, Aubrey Ellis, Brenda Wood, Lionel Newton, Don Maguire and others, opening 7 December 1985. Direction and design by Michael Burke, musical direction by Peter McLea.

1994: Presented by the Playhouse Company opening 9 December at the Natal Playhouse directed by Murray McGibbon. Musical direction was by Lykele Temmingh, choreography by Mark Hawkins, set design by Rod Smith, costume design by Neil Stuart-Harris, lighting design by Joe Freedman. Stage manager Pam Eales. The large cast included Clive Scott, Brenda Radloff and Jamie Bartlett.


Brian Brooke Company theatre programme (undated).

Oliver! theatre programme, Baxter Theatre 1985.

Playhouse Parade Dec 1994-January 1995.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

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