Rehearsals started in earnest when the students returned from their Easter break and since then, they’ve been working all hours to do justice to Lionel Bart award winning musical and capture the essence of 19th century Dickensian London.
All Level 3 Performing Arts and Music students are involved in the production, either on stage or behind the scenes while the young chorus members are part of the Kelly Neill School of Dance.
The title role of Oliver is played by 11 year old Louis McMaster, a pupil of Leaney Primary School in Ballymoney and Abbie McDowell from Antrim, takes on the role of the Artful Dodger.
The other leading roles are played by Kieran McKernan, (Fagin), CJ Porter, (Bill Sykes), Ewan Williams (Mr Bumble), Clarice Taggart (Nancy),Emmet Mullan (Mr Brownlow), Dionne Moore (Widow Corney), Connor McCandless (Mr Sowerberry,)Tierna McLaughlin (Mrs Sowerberry).
Jonathan Boyd is the musical director, sound engineer is Noel McKeary and chorography is by Kelly Neill.
Producer and Performing Arts lecturer, Paul McMaster explained that the end of show is an ideal opportunity for students to showcase their newly developed skills in Drama, Dance and Music.
“Oliver was a really popular choice with the students as it includes so many well known songs including Food Glorious Food, Who Will Buy, You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket and Be Back Soon, as well as great opportunities for characterisation.”
Paul added that while some of the cast had performed previously on stage, others had not – although he said it will be difficult for the audience to pick out the novices from among the performers.
“Putting on a show like ‘Oliver’ brings together all the different elements of music, dance, singing and back stage production. Getting to perform in a professional theatre like the Riverside is an invaluable experience for the students and we hope the audiences will enjoy watching it as much as we’ve enjoyed getting ready for it.”
Second year student Clarice Taggart from Armoy who takes on the challenging role of Nancy admits that as she had never acted before and thought she would have preferred a more behind the scenes role.
“But I’m surprised at much I have really enjoyed myself and would feel a lot more confident now about getting involved in other productions.”
The past few weeks have been hectic for first year student Ewan Williams from Ballintoy who was juggling rehearsals for ‘Oliver’ with his commitments with Ballywillan Drama Group which has just finished a successful ten night run with ‘Les Miserables’ in the Riverside Theatre.
If a measure of a performer is being able to switch roles convincingly then Ewan - AKA Mr Bumble in Oliver and innkeeper Mousieur Thenardier in Les Miserables - has it down to a fine art.
Tickets for Oliver, which will be performed in the Riverside Theatre, Coleraine, Thursday, May 10, Friday May 11 and Saturday May 12, are now available from the Riverside Theatre box office www.riversidetheatre.org.uk or telephone 028 7012 3123.