From Tams-Witmark Music Library:
The curtain opens on the sinister interior of the workhouse with a bare dining table, center stage,
where the boys will sit. These pale-faced wretches can be seen peering through the bars of a door at
the back. Looming above two curving stairways glows the legend "God Is Love" in rough letters. The
door is opened and the boys file to the table and sing Food, Glorious Food. At the end of the
song, the Widow Corney, who runs the workhouse and Mr. Bumble, the parish beadle, enter and a thin
gruel is served. Wolfing the meagre fare, the boys hopelessly stack their bowls, but the hapless
Oliver approaches Bumble with the entreaty, "Please sir, I want some more." He is instantly subdued.
Oliver is locked behind the barred door as the rest of the boys exit upstairs.
Oliver is brought forward, bag and baggage, and is led off by Bumble who sings the haunting Boy
for Sale. Walking through the streets of London, they arrive at Mr. Sowerberry's, the undertaker.
Oliver is "sold" to the undertaker. Alone and frightened and surrounded by coffins on stage, he sings
the plaintive Where Is Love?
Oliver runs away the very next morning, and is picked up hungry and tired in the streets by the
Artful Dodger who cheers him up with Consider Yourself. The Dodger leads him through crowded
streets to Fagin's kitchen. The boys come in and Fagin himself appears and, with a mock solemn
welcome to Oliver, sings the fantastic You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two. Nancy, Bill Sikes'
girl and Bet arrive. The two of them, accompanied by the boys and Fagin, celebrate their way of life
in It's a Fine Life. The action moves to the next morning when Fagin sends the boys off on a
pocket-picking expedition, Oliver among them. The stage now displays a city scene and we witness the
capture of Oliver, not for picking pockets, but for simply looking guilty.
In the second act the curtain rises on the Three Cripples-an underworld tavern-where Nancy is
being encouraged to sing a music hall number, Oom-Pah-Pah. Fagin's boys pour down the stairs
telling of Oliver's apprehension by the police, at the same time revealing that his innocence has
been established and that he is presently ensconced in the home of a rich old gentleman. Fearful lest
he give away their set-up, Fagin and Sikes dispatch Nancy to get Oliver back.
Meanwhile, at the home of his new-found benefactor, the erstwhile ragged Oliver has become a well-
tailored, well-cared for little lad. Looking out of his bedroom window he observes some passing
street vendors crying their wares; he sings Who Will Buy? A plea that his good luck and new
situation in life will be permanent. However, the moment he sets foot outside his benefactor's house,
Oliver is seized and dragged off by Nancy to Fagin's.
In the next scene Fagin occupies the empty stage and considers going straight in Reviewing the
Situation. Subsequently, Bumble and Mrs. Corney, now uncomfortably married, discover that Oliver
is the scion of a rich family. Their scheme to get him back fails and Nancy, regretting her part in
the capture of Oliver, plans to return him to his benefactor at night on London Bridge. Fearful of
Sikes, she reprises As Long as He Needs Me. Sikes stalks her and kills her. He grabs Oliver
and, after a chase, is himself shot dead. Oliver is restored to his benefactor and Fagin, now without
boys, home and money, reprises Reviewing the Situation.
OLIVER! was first presented in London, where it played for 2,618 performances at the New
Theatre. It played for 774 performances on Broadway at the Imperial and Shubert Theatres starring
Georgia Brown and Clive Revill as Nancy and Fagin. It has been revived on Broadway several times, as
in 1984 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, and in London in 1994 at the Palladium starring Jonathan Pryce
OLIVER! has won 3 Tony Awards: for Composer and Lyricist, Conductor and Musical Director, and