Leighton Buzzard’s Advance Theatre Company are bringing the famous musical Oliver! to life this week at the town’s library theatre.
Being performed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (June 12-14), the production has brought together two children’s teams – Team Charles and Team Dickens – to play the workhouse children and Fagin’s gang, plus an adult cast to play the cameo roles which Lionel Bart and of course Charles Dickens captured so well.
The children will be led by Billy Knibb and Jared Walsh as Oliver. Billy and Jared both attend St Leonards Lower School and have worked very hard on the characterisation of the young boy who is born in a workhouse where he and the others are treated so cruelly by Mr Bumble and Widow Corney.
He is chosen to ask for more gruel saying the famous lines “please sir, can I have some more” and branded a troublemaker he is apprenticed to an undertakers with Mr and Mrs Sowerberry.
Mrs Sowerberry will be played by drama graduate Hayley Green who grew up in Leighton Buzzard and has returned after her studies to work as a teaching assistant in the town. Hayley is involved with direction and production in many projects.
Oliver manages to escape and walks to London where he meets The Artful Dodger played by 14 year olds Jacob Townson and Tom Harriman.
Dodger introduces him to many characters including Fagin played by 25 year old Nathan Rutherford. Nathan graduated with a BA in Drama from the University of Winchester and loves musicals and performing. Fagin leads a band of young thieves and pursaudes Oliver to “work” for him.
He meets Nancy played by Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance student Lissie Allsopp and Bet who see the need to protect him from Fagin and the evil Bill Sykes. Bill is played by young Manchester University medical student Andrew Fell, Bet by A level student Josie Derland and also semi professional actor Carly Halse.
Whilst Dodger and the others are out picking pockets Oliver is falsley accused of stealing the pocket watch of Mr Brownlow played by Graham Mountford.
The wonderful musical full of songs, dance, laughter and sadness will be fully staged over four performances. The adult ensemble brings together many from the community some of whom have performed many times and some who are treading the boards for the first time.
The children’s casts are all local children who participated in an Oliver workshop earlier in the year organised by the Advance Theatre Company and did so well they were cast in the production.
Tickets are on sale from the Leighton Buzzard Theatre Box Office (0300 300 8130). Performances are 7pm on Thursday and Friday. 2pm and 7.30 on Saturday.
> The Advance Theatre Company is a relatively new production company based in Leighton Buzzard.
The company appeals to a whole variety of performers - the amateur seeking confidence and fun, the semi professional looking to widen their horizons and the professional looking to become a part of something new, innovative and exciting.