I was wondering if the stage musical and/or film Oliver! is still a useful cultural reference.
Seems it’s less reliable as such than it used to be.
Certainly the 1968 film version was very popular at the time and remained so for quite some time after. While I grew up in the 80s, it was one of the most popular musical productions to be performed by high schools, middle schools, and community theater. So you didn’t have to be a fan of musical theater to have some experience with it. Even if you hated musical theater there was a good chance that your school would put on a production or you would be dragged to see your kid brother even though he was barely visible in the back of the chorus, or your cousin, or your youngest hottest aunt that you had naughty thoughts about would be playing Nancy in a local low budget production.
Seems like it’s a lost reference for anyone younger though. I don’t think the original Dickens novel is popularly taught in any standard curriculum in American schools (is it taught in the U.K.?)
I do have a younger friend, born in 1991, who knows the movie but that’s because Oliver Reed is her #1 favorite actor (yeah, she’s very much not “of” her generation in lots of ways).
I think it’s a pretty good show but when it goes cheeseball it really goes cheeseball (“Who Will Buy?” blech! Where’s the pukey smiley when you need one? “Where Is Love?” ack! Puncture my eardrums, please!)
“That’s Your Funeral” is a great song (though omitted from the film), “Consider Yourself”, “Pick a Pocket”, “It’s a Fine Life”, “Reviewing the Situation” are all excellent memorable songs. “As Long As He Needs Me”, when done well, can completely floor me.
The film is great (except for the filmed parts of the play that were cheeseball to begin with). The aforementioned Oliver Reed is wonderful, Shani Wallis is lovely and talented, and of course there’s Ron Moody- one of the best performances by anyone ever. Mark Lester is too pretty and his voice is too pretty but Jack Wild is delightful.