Littlehampton GP turns cruel child exploiter for stage role

Tim Kimber as Fagin

Littlehampton GP Tim Kimber will be Fagin for a third time when he takes to the stage in Worthing Musical Theatre Company’s production of Oliver!

Tim, who lives in East Preston, first played the role in 2011 with “the late, great” Sussex Musical Productions at the Shoreham Centre; he returned to it with the Littlehampton Players Operatic Society at the Windmill a couple of years later.

“And now I have landed in the middle… in Worthing!”

The show will be at the Pavilion Theatre from Thursday to Saturday, March 15-17 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at 7.30pm; Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm).

So why does Fagin keep coming back to him?

“I am completely typecast, I guess,” Tim jokes.

“But I suppose I have got the right physique in that I am pretty wiry and skinny and wizened!

“In musical theatre, there are a number of great roles, the leading romantic roles for male and female, but really this is the role if you want something that you can sink your teeth into. This is a role with a lot of light and shade… and a lot of dark!

“The director said to me at the outset that we are looking to get Fagin a bit more back to Dickens.

“You think of Ron Moody in the film playing Fagin as a loveable rogue, but if you go back to Dickens, you find that Fagin is a completely-black character.

“There is a scene in the musical where Bill Sikes is threatening to beat Oliver, and Fagin and Nancy are trying to stop him. But in the original Dickens, it was actually Fagin who was trying to beat Oliver, and so we have tried to inject a little bit more darkness into the character.

“This is a man whose livelihood revolves around the abuse, physical and emotional, of small boys for profit.

“When we read the Dickens, it is clear that his entire motive is money through the abuse of these children.

“In the modern world, you suspect that a lot of that is still going on, but it is a lot more difficult to get away with it on that scale… and we are trying to go back to that.

“But obviously we can’t change the Lionel Bart writing in the musical. There are lighter moments, but we are trying to remember what Fagin was really like in the original.

“I think the pressure for me is people’s expectations.

“It is a well-known show, and the majority of people that come along to see the show will have seen various versions.

“And there is an expectation because of the late, great Ron Moody who is perhaps the most famous Fagin, and I think I have got to take that on board.

“But certainly, I wouldn’t want to mimic Ron Moody. I have got to look at the part my own way, but that is certainly another pressure.”

But as Tim says, there is plenty to play with.

“In amateur theatre, it is pretty unusual to go back to a role.

“To be honest, for the last 20 odd years or whatever, you do a role and you think ‘That’s that one ticked off’, but I really do feel that Fagin is one of those great roles that you can go back to time and time again.”

Tickets are available from Worthing Theatres online at their website worthingtheatres.co.uk.

Songs include Food Glorious Food, I’d Do Anything, Consider Yourself and Oom Pah Pah.

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