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Tiffany-Markman-latest-feb-13.-jpg-201x300Reviewed by Tiffany Markman: copywriter & editor, co-owner of Sing at my Party and adoring mom and wife, who tries to balance her workaholism with her addiction to false eyelashes, caffeine, red wine, reviewing books, and Twitter.

 My older sister once told me that the best way to help little kids to enjoy musical theatre is to inundate them with the music beforehand.

I’ve tried this technique. It works!

Over the last four days, my four-year-old and I have been studiously listening to the soundtrack of the original London recording of Oliver! Yup, the 1960 stage version. So, when we headed off this evening to watch the National Children’s Theatre production of Oliver Twist, we were fantastically ready.

She knew the basic plot, had a sense of what to expect and had some of the words down. She was even willing to sit on the benches, with me in the seats.

What it’s about

Beginning with the iconic ‘Food, Glorious Food’, the NCT production of Oliver Twist scarpers through Oliver’s birth in the workhouse and apprenticeship with a dour undertaker – really only kicking off when he escapes and travels to London. There, Oliver meets the Artful Dodger, a grinning member of a gang of juvenile pickpockets led by the elderly criminal Fagin, and joins the pack.

The full cast of Oliver Twist at the National Children’s Theatre; source: NCT

The full cast of Oliver Twist at the National Children’s Theatre; source: NCT

What to expect

Expect delightful period costumes, a gorgeous set, and some epic voices – including those of Ben Kgosimore as Bill Sykes, Schoeman Smit as Mr Brownlow, Kayli Elit Smith as Nancy (and a few others) and Luciano Zuppa as Fagin. There’s also some lekker dancing by Teekay Baloyi (Dodger).

Plus, your kids’ll love the support cast of kiddie cuties from NCT’s workshops who, while not polished actors, can certainly sing for their suppers.

Top 2 highlights

As a long-term Oliver die-hard, I was a little confused by some of the plot abbreviations and song choices/omissions. However, my highlights were the magnificently harmonised rendition of ‘Streets of London’, which isn’t on any soundtrack I’ve seen, and a glorious performance of ‘Consider Yourself’.

Age recommendation

Bottom line? Four years old could be a bit young for Oliver – my little one was put out by ‘the steam’ [smoke] and ‘all of the shouting’, while the sixes and ups seemed better able to concentrate on the full 90-minute show.

But if your kids enjoy the classics or even if you’re keen on doing something a little different with them, go! There are several messages in Oliver Twist that resonate today. (According to my pre-schooler, ‘It’s wrong to be thiefs.’)

The show details

The run ends on 19 July 2015 (Mon-Sat during the term and Tue-Sun during school holidays). There are 10.30am and 2.30pm shows of 90 minutes each (with an intermission). And you’ll find Oliver at 3 Junction Avenue, Parktown. Click here to find out more.

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