Welcome to the study guide for Oliver! In it you will find background information on the play including notes on the adaptation of the original, an act by act synopsis, and historical context within which the play is set. You will also find pre and post show discussion questions and exercises. These are designed to engage students to think creatively about both the content and form of the play. If you have any questions about how to use this guide in your classroom, please contact Education and Outreach Coordinator Karen Gilodo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Novel to Musical – Oliver Twist and Oliver!
In 1838 the English literary magazine Bentley’s Miscellany, of which Charles Dickens was the editor, published Oliver Twist. This novel not only captured the attention of nineteenth-century Britain, but has also heavily influenced the modern conception of the British Poor Laws and the workhouse system in the Victorian era. Oliver Twist has been made into a number of films and a television miniseries, as well as being converted into a musical stage show by Lionel Bart in 1960. Oliver! has received a number of awards, including a Tony Award to Lionel Bart in 1963 for Best Composer and Lyricist. It continues to be toured by various theatre companies worldwide and has been performed in at least twenty-two different languages.
Study guide written by Dave Wielusiewicz with additional content by English Theatre staff