What a show! Fifty-one actors in the cast, including more than 20 of our fabulous Rising Stars, and as many people again creating and supporting our production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!

In early February 2018, we held our auditions for Oliver! and were overwhelmed to see a queue forming outside the Congregational Chapel as we registered everyone and the roles in which they were interested. With such a wealth of talent to choose from, we were able to assemble our amazing cast.

Two weeks later rehearsals were underway, becoming a firm fixture for our Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. With music calls and lines to learn and a large cast it was quite the endeavour – but our strong supporting cast of parents, chaperones and group members who came along to manage people, props and scene changes meant it all moved well. Tea, coffee and squash was drunk by the bucketload; biscuits and fruit provided sustenance. Our extended Oliver! family was what made it all come together.

And the efforts of all were shown, when we went on stage in May. We played to full houses – in fact, this was a show where having expandable walls on the Memorial Hall would have been useful, as we had to disappoint some of our supporters for lack of seats.

The show had everything you could hope for: comedy, tragedy, fantastic characters and, of course, wonderful music, a mix of old favourites and less-familiar (but thoroughly entertaining) songs.

And our Rising Stars were stars indeed .. from the moment they marched in with their bowls hoping for Food Glorious Food they captured the audiences’ hearts.

It wasn’t just rehearsals that started early for Oliver! In a loaned barn on Sheephurst Lane, Saturday mornings saw a group of willing and able set builders and painters come together to build all of the movable scenery, long before the week of the show. London Bridge with its movable sections, lampposts and a woodburning stove that glowed were all created here; apple crates were waxed, tables created that would withstand people’s weight, benches were made, coffins doctored, everything painted at least once … All before we were able to get into the Memorial Hall to build the set.

Then, 5 days before curtain up a willing posse descended on the Hall to create the set, rig up the lights and sound and paint and paint again the world of Oliver ready for the audience to see.