Barry Humphries as Fagin in Oliver Twist

Barry Humphries as Fagin in Oliver Twist

Oliver! was Lionel Bart's musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist. The brilliant combination of soulful ballads like 'As Long As He Needs Me' and 'Where Is Love?', and rollicking singalong numbers like 'Consider Yourself' and 'Oom pah pah' with the lowlife setting and dark subplots of Dickens's book made it Bart's greatest success. It opened at the New Theatre in 1960, received 23 curtain calls and ran for 2618 performances. The 1968 film version won six Oscars, including Best Picture. Among the original cast on stage was one Barry Humphries as Mr Sowerberry, the Undertaker. By the 1967 revival, Humphries had moved up to playing the lead, Fagin, the seedy sinister crook who trains orphans and street urchins in pickpocketing. Fagin has some of the best songs in the show, including 'You've got to pick a pocket or two' and 'Reviewing the Situation'. Humphries played the role again in 1997, a salutary reminder that he has always been more than just his world famous outrageous alter ego, Australian 'superstar' Dame Edna Everage.