Auditions, recalls and second recalls done and dusted, our Oliver! company started rehearsals in early October. The company will be our biggest ever, with well over 100 pupils taking part in the show, on-stage and in the orchestra.
For a number of our performers, this is the second time in their Senior School career that they have starred in Oliver! as one of our founding schools, Central High staged the show back in 2014. Katie Dixon, then a Year 7 workhouse soloist, is now the Pickpocket Co-ordinator himself, Fagin.
Oliver Twist or The Parish Boy’s Progress, was Dickens’ second novel (although released initially in episodic form). Written and published between 1837 and 1839, it got a major reincarnation 130 years later when Lionel Bart turned it into a smash-hit musical. The iconic film followed eight years later, scooping up six Oscars, including one for Ron Moody, and Best Picture.
One noticeable difference between the novel and the musical is with the character of Fagin. Bart, himself Jewish, reinvents Fagin as a comedic villain and gives him a happy ending. This is in contrast with Dickens, who hangs Fagin and refers to him as ‘the Jew’ 257 times within the first 38 chapters. Reacting to shocked reader response to early installments, Dickens radically modified his language. From Chapter 39 onwards, Fagen is referred to almost exclusively by his name.
The Creative Arts team (with the exception of Assistant Director Miss Richardson) all worked on Oliver! in 2014 at School. So why are we back here again? We put this question to Mrs Dobson, Director, about the multi-award-winning hugely popular musical, rarely seen out of the West End. ‘I like it because it is based on a proper story. Some musicals can have a bit of a flimsy narrative. Oliver! feels real – there’s lots of room for good characterisation.’
While we may have ditched the glamour of Hairspray in favour of rags and handkerchiefs, you can be sure that the show is on track to be absolutely glorious!
Oliver! will be performed at Northern Stage from Thursday 24th- Saturday 26th January with tickets on sale NOW!
To book your tickets, visit www.northernstage.co.uk/Event/Oliver or telephone 0191 230 5151 (Northern Stage Box Office).