Whole cast hits the stage for County Durham school show after two year wait

Reviewing the situation, the popular musical Oliver finally hits the stage at Barnard Castle School
Reviewing the situation, the popular musical Oliver finally hits the stage at Barnard Castle School

THE full cast of a school play was finally on stage after a two year wait when the curtain rose on a spectacular production of a Dickens classic tale of resilience.

Thirty eight young actors, from Year 7 to Upper Sixth, and nine professional musicians battled to stage the first performance before a live audience for two years at Barnard Castle School.

Four sell-out shows proved the community was more than ready to return to the stalls to watch, listen and hum along to the Lionel Bart adaptation of Oliver Twist.

Planned originally for November last year, the production had to be delayed because of the challenges of Covid, lockdowns, changing legislation and mock exams.

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Director of drama Scott Edwards said: “Oliver requires a highly-skilled and committed team to bring to the stage and putting the whole thing on has been an enormous theatrical undertaking.

“The past few weeks have seen huge swathes of time where we have not had our full cast due to illness and isolation, in fact the very first time they were all on stage was for the first performances.

“The cast and our student technical crew have had to demonstrate great resilience and flexibility, with understudies stepping in at the last moment on a daily basis and I am incredibly proud of them for all they have accomplished.

"The audience certainly seemed to enjoy the show.”

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A two and a half hour performance took the audience to the Dickensian streets of London for a humorous and tuneful account of orphan Oliver and his sometimes dark dealings with a gang of vagabonds and thieves.

The lead of Oliver went to Year 8 student Freddie Wootton, while the characterful Artful Dodger was played by Dan Newall, gang leader Fagin by Lois Falshaw, the murderous Bill Sikes by Izzy Yeadon and his long-suffering girlfriend Nancy was Anna Forbes.

Mr Bumble was Jack Roberts, Widow Corney Imogen Roff, Mr Brownlow was Jack Haslam and Mr and Mrs Sowerberry were played by Freddie Barrett and Lena Heil.

Bet was Rosalie Archer, Charlotte and Noah were Issey Hoy and Benjamin French, while Mrs Bedwin, Dr Grimwig and Old Sally were played by Arwen Jenkins, Emma Hardy and Lucy Nattrass.

Fagin’s gang comprised Henry Jenkinson, Freddie Whittaker, Libby Forsyth, Lola Yuill-Rostron and Bella Bland, all supported by a talented chorus line and back stage crew.

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