Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Episode 1297: Oliver!

Went to the Birmingham Hippodrome to see Oliver! I thought it was okay for a musical. The Dickens source material is so emotionally affecting to begin with anyway, so that's a ready-made arc. Trouble was, I felt like the plot of the musical ended up feeling quite choppy somehow. Almost every other song ended in a picturesque onstage montage, so the scenes didn't so much transition as suddenly switch. (Plus the first couple of songs didn't really grab me.) While the songs were melodic, I thought lyrically they had a tendency towards too much repetition. The one time this worked though, was in the scene after the intermission where Oliver wakes up in Mr Brownlow's house. The slow layering of the five voices in that scene was my favourite moment of the whole musical, and then when it transitioned into a full-on scene with the ensemble singing as well, I liked how the original melody was tweaked from melancholy to cheerful. Also, I'm not sure if it was the venue's acoustics, but occasionally, I couldn't really make out the lyrics as they were being sung. I'll admit to being mildly confused that a musical entitled Oliver! ended up being more about the interactions of Fagin, Bill Sykes and Nancy, with Oliver more like a pawn being traded back and forth. I suppose that's one way of interpreting the source material.

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