I went to Tochigi last Sunday to watch a musical show performed by Kokugakuin Tochigi High School’s Musical Club in this high school’s cultural festival held that weekend. I watch this club’s musical every year for these several years. One of my keypals, Mito Saigusa, works for Kokugakuin Tochigi High School as a dance instructor for the Musical Club, so I’m very interested in what the students she is teaching play.
This year’s show was Oliver!, a well-known British musical by Lionel Bart. It’s a story of a little orphan whose name is Oliver Twist.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Oliver Twist is a nine-year-old orphan working at a workhouse with other half-starved orphan boys, fed only gruel. He asks for more food, but his employers Bumble and Corney are very angry and sell him to Sowerberry, a funeral conductor. Oliver there fights with one of his colleagues Noah who bullys him, and is driven away from the workplace.
Walking sadly on the street near the London Bridge, Oliver meets the Artful Dodger, a pickpocket, who invites Oliver to a house of Fagin, teaching boys to pick pockets. In this house Oliver meets Nancy, a girlfriend of an evil burglar, Bill Sikes. Oliver and Nancy take an instant liking to each other, and Nancy shows motherly affection toward him.
One day Oliver is sent out with other boys for picking pockets. The target is Mrs. Brown, a rich woman. She thinks that Oliver is the thief, but Oliver is finally cleared because another person witnesses the other pickpocket. To make up for her error, she takes Oliver to live with her.
Bill decides to kidnap Oliver for keeping him from talking about the crimes. He asks Nancy to take part in the kidnapping, but she refuses because she feels sorry for Oliver and wishes him to have a better life if he has the chance. The boyfriend gets upset and slaps her around. She gives up and reluctantly helps in kidnapping him.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Brown is handed a locket which belonged to Oliver’s mother. She now realizes that Oliver is his grandson – Mrs. Brown’s unmarried daughter disappeared after having been left pregnant by her lover, who jilted her.
Nancy, terrified for Oliver and feeling guilty, visits Mrs. Brown and promises to deliver Oliver to her safely that night at midnight on London Bridge.
Mrs. Brown promises to do so, but Bill suspects that Nancy is up to something. That night, he follows her as she sneaks Oliver out. At London Bridge, he corners them, struggles with Nancy and beats her. Then he grabs Oliver, returns to Fagin and demands money to run away. Bill gets money from Fagin and takes Oliver as a hostage to make his getaway, but is shot by police officers who chase him and under arrest, and Oliver is rescued and restored to Mrs. Brown….
The show was played by high school students and was very excellent. I found that an actor playing Fagin did a very great job. He was funny, comical and better than any other students who played this musical.
I wanted to see Saigusa-sensei to say hello after the show, but the theatre was highly crowded with many audiences and couldn’t even get where she was. It was my only regret.