'Who Will Buy?' - The Song Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Who Will Buy?' - The Song

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Who will buy this wonderful morning?
Such a sky you never did see!

'Who Will Buy?' is a song from the musical Oliver! (based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens). The words and music to the song were written by Lionel Bart, and the song appears in most stage productions of Oliver! as well as the 1968 feature film version.

Oliver! follows the story of Oliver Twist, a poor orphan living in Victorian England. After he is thrown out of a workhouse, he goes to live in London, where he is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Oliver is cleared of the charges and taken home to live with his accuser, the wealthy Mr Brownlow. The song takes place as Oliver wakes up on his first morning in Mr Brownlow's house. For the first time in his life he has slept in a proper bed. In the film, Oliver's room has a balcony1 on which he stands and peers down at the cobbled street below. He sings the song 'Who Will Buy?' which develops into a song-and-dance routine involving the whole street.

It is a lovely clear day on the morning Oliver wakes up, hence the lyrics about the 'wonderful morning' and 'sky you never did see'. Down below on the street, Oliver notices a lone flower-seller, a woman who sings 'who will buy my sweet red roses, two blooms for a penny?' in order to advertise her trade. Gradually other voices join in, including a lady trying to sell 'ripe strawberries, ripe', some women with milk and a man offering to sharpen knives. The voices all join together and then Oliver begins singing, asking who will buy the wonderful morning. Oliver expresses his wishes for the morning and asks who will buy it for him, and give it to him to keep as a treasure.

In the film Oliver!, everybody on the road joins in Oliver's song about the wonderful morning, and it develops into an intricate, carefully-choreographed dance. Policemen, window cleaners, maids, gentlemen and bakers all dance around the street with each other singing about the wonderful morning. Schoolchildren and teachers from the boys' and girls' schools all come skipping out of their classrooms to dance together in the park (unfortunately, the dance has a wet ending). Window-cleaners and their assistants perform a special ladder dance. Everybody loves the morning and Oliver excitedly watches the whole scene from his balcony.

The scene is used to mark the transition from Oliver's old life into his new and much more pleasant life. Yes, the concept of everybody joining in is incredibly far-fetched, but that's musicals for you. Although it might not score well on the realism scale, the song is a lot of fun and an enjoyable part of Oliver!

1Although in some stage versions the balcony is omitted.

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