Saturday, January 19, 2013


 by Lionel Bart                                              
Ben Burgess as Oliver Twist
Presented by Ickle Pickle Productions

Belconnen Theatre until 25th January

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Previously known for their school holiday productions of children’s musicals, Ickle Pickle is this year presenting an ambitious full scale production of the Lionel Bart musical masterpiece “Oliver”, which is based on the Charles Dickens novel “Oliver Twist”.

Director, John Alsford has downplayed the darker Dickensonian aspects of the show, favouring a simplistic, bright setting, fresh, colourful costumes, even for the paupers, and well-drilled chorus numbers sung with gusto to spectacularly inappropriate choreography.

Among the cast of 50 adults and children, Ben Burgess is appealing, though tentative, as Oliver Twist, too often left unsupported by the direction. Oliver’s friendship with the Artful Dodger (Jack Taylor) is left unexplored, as is his relationships with any of the other characters.

Among the adult actors, Richard Block is a suitably menacing Bill Sykes, Michael Miller and Debra Byrne have fun as Mr Bumble and Widow Corney. Michael Jordan is rather too restrained as Fagin, while Jeff Young (Charley Bates) and Jenny Watson (Bet) prove there is no such thing as small roles.

Although attractive in its own right, the sequenced soundtrack proved problematical, robbing the production of spontaneity and pace as several of the un-miked cast struggled with vocal entrances.

No doubt this production will smarten up as the cast gain confidence with further performances, and should prove a winner with its young target audience, and for Ickle Pickle.

Leanne Olsen as Nancy
Ben Burgess as Oliver



Michael Jordan as Fagin
Photo: Familyphotographics

                     This review is published in the January 17th - 23rd edition of CITY NEWS


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