Lyrics & Music: Lionel Bart

Original Story: Charles Dickens

First performed in 1960 at the New Theatre in London, this is the best know work of Lionel Bart who died on 3rd April 1999.

It's based on the Charles Dickens Classic Oliver Twist, and tells the story of an orphaned boy who is adopted by a wealthy London family. But Oliver is lured into the world of the slightly loveable rogue Fagin and his gang of young thieves, the best known of whom is the Artful Dodger who teaches Oliver to pickpocket.

The real villain of the show is of course Bill Sikes, a thoroughly nasty and violent man, whose sometime girlfriend Nancy is a friend of Fagin. Nancy sees that really Oliver is not cut-out for street life, and she tries to protect him from both Fagin and Sikes, with mixed success as Oliver is caught picking a pocket.

This show is not a realistic depiction of the grim realities of life in Victorian London - and it probably wouldn't be much fun if it were. It's a fun musical but with very powerful characters a great story and excellent songs.


Lionel Bart was born on 1st August 1930 in the East End of London.

A born entertainer, Lionel joined Tommy Steel and other friends in a skiffle group called The Cavemen. Lionel wrote many of the songs performed by the gorup,and later Tommy Steele's early hits.

Lionel's credits go on and on, and include the stage shows 'Lock up Your Daughters' and 'Fings Ain't What They Used To Be', Cliff Richard's hit single 'Living Doll' and one of the songs from Oliver - 'As Long As He Needs Me' became a hit for Shirley Bassey.<.p>

Oliver Programme

What about the songs?

There are a great many classic songs, and because the show was first performed in 1960 the songs are for the most part very well known even to those who have never seen the show. Food, glorious food of course is tremendous fun; it's at the opening of the show and includes the famous scene from the original Dickens story when Oliver asks for more. Consider yourself is another great one, and you'll be singing these songs for days after you've seen this show.

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