A Dickens of a musical launches Plantsbrook School’s new theatre

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The entire cast of Plantsbrook School’s ambitious production of Oliver!
The entire cast of Plantsbrook School’s ambitious production of Oliver!

Audiences were left asking for ‘more’ after Plantsbrook School staged an ambitious production of much-loved musical Oliver! last week.

More than sixty pupils of all ages took part in the show over three sell-out nights on July 5, 6 and 7 at the school in Upper Holland Road.

Mrs Nicola Downs, the school’s performing arts leader, said: “The audience absolutely loved it, and we had some really good feedback.

“It has been a brilliant experience all the way through. The students have been so enthusiastic right from the start.

“They’ve really stepped up to the plate to show leadership and take ownership of the show.”

Headteacher Tracy Campbell said: “I am immensely proud of all of the fantastic students and staff who have worked tirelessly to put this brilliant production together. In our first whole school show performed in our lovely new theatre, everyone rose to the challenge magnificently.”

Auditions for Oliver! began in February, with rehearsals from March onwards. Plantsbrook’s much-admired orchestra provided music for the production, while pupils formed the large back stage crew too.

The production used the school’s new 240-seat state-of-the-art auditorium to its full extent for the first time.

Tom Owens took the lead role of Oliver Twist, while Ethan Taylor played the Artful Dodger.

Sixth former Marshall Tisdale, at 17 the oldest member of the cast, featured as Fagin in his last Plantsbrook School production, having appeared in the last six.

“I’ll really miss it,” he said. “I’m going to come back and help backstage whenever I can. There’s an incredible atmosphere here.”

Mrs Downs praised Marshall for helping encourage the musical’s younger stars: “He was a little bit of a teacher,” she said. “He looked after all of his Fagin’s boys to make sure they were at rehearsals and doing the right thing and standing in the right place. He was wonderful with all of that.”

The show was such an ambitious production that three Plantsbrook teachers shared the director’s chair – Mrs Downs alongside Jo Burns and Rachel Dasley – while their colleagues Hannah Moran and Emily Carter provided choreography. Music teachers Lisa Wilson and Emily Stamoulis helped the orchestra and cast master Oliver’s timeless songs.

Headteacher Tracy Campbell said: “I am immensely proud of all of the fantastic students and staff who have worked tirelessly to put this brilliant production together. In our first whole school show performed in our lovely new theatre, everyone rose to the challenge magnificently.”

Oliver! At Plantsbrook School

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