Please, sir, I want some more” is one of the most infamous lines from the childrens’ classic ‘Oliver Twist’written by Charles Dickens and based on this beloved story ‘Oliver!’ the British musical by Lionel Bart has fast become a must-see in the West End and on Broadway. Come December the Overseas School of Colombo (OSC) [...]


Expect some twists as Overseas School of Colombo gears up for ‘Oliver’


Please, sir, I want some more” is one of the most infamous lines from the childrens’ classic ‘Oliver Twist’written by Charles Dickens and based on this beloved story ‘Oliver!’ the British musical by Lionel Bart has fast become a must-see in the West End and on Broadway.

Connor O’Mahony

Yanghi Sherpa

Akhil Pilapitiya

Come December the Overseas School of Colombo (OSC) will stage their own production of ‘Oliver!’ at the OSC Auditorium on December 5 and 6 from 7.00 p.m. onwards.

On December 7, a Gala performance will be stage as the cast and crew bring back OSC’s concept of dinner theatre as the audiences enjoy watching the play whilst having a sit down dinner catered by the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Tickets for the Gala dinner theatre performance have already been sold out we are told.

The Mirror Magazine had the opportunity to catch up with the cast amidst preparations for the production.

Speaking to us first were the co-directors Rachel Jackson and Trae Hicks alongside musical director Loretta Duncan.

“In terms of music, they had to choose and learn one of the six songs in the musical and they auditioned with that so we could hear the different types of voices and they also did monologues so we could hear their voices and see what type of character they were suited to. Then we had callbacks and made our cast list,” Loretta Duncan tells us on the audition process.

As Loretta tells us how she rehearses with the individual students who have solos during lunch time and break time and then moving onto the chorus with the entire cast, Rachel Duncan elaborated further on the challenges they have had to overcome to stage ‘Oliver!”.

Sheruni Pilapitiya

Seth Keerthiratne Pix courtesy Amila Gamage

“We unfortunately don’t have any curriculum time (to rehearse), although we are a small school we have a lot of activities that the students are involved in as well. In terms of time, we are kind of limited and restricted so it is quite important when we have the kids all present. It is a question of really using the time that we have.”

When asked what audiences can expect differently from this production, Mr Hicks says, “I think we are trying to make it fresh and relevant with the kids. I think we are trying to veer off some of the more traditional tropes of the musical. I feel like so often Broadway and Western musicals are deemed so precious that we never try to change or freshen them up. This musical has been done the same way for 60 years. I thought we could make it more fresh, relevant and modern for the kids.”

Another interesting element of OSC’s ‘Oliver!’ is that there will be an accompanying live 12-piece musical ensemble as well during the performances that have been absorbed into the cast, the band is a mix of teachers, alumni and students of OSC.

We also spoke to few of the cast members who are students from the classes of Grade 6 to Grade 12.

One of the youngest members of the cast, Connor O’Mahony plays the lead role of Oliver Twist and tells us that he identifies with his character because he sees the same kindness and politeness that Oliver portrays in himself.

“I think people should come see this play because there are many characters and it is quite funny, its exciting and its sad. There are many emotions shared between the characters,” Connor tells us as he shares that audiences need to come see the struggles and adventures the cast go through.

Nancy is played by Sheruni Pilapitiya who talked to us on how she made sure that her portrayal of  this character was properly depicted.   “Nancy is a role, that her experiences are almost foreign to me because she is such a tough character and is so complex on so many levels. I think bringing those different layers and parts to add that complexity has been quite challenging because you need to know how to balance her out whilst showing authenticity to the different parts to her that make her who she is.”

“The role of Dodger really interested me because there are a lot of different ways that you can interpret his character. To me, Dodger has kind of two personalities and it’s kind of fun to bring those out in different situations in different scenes,” shares Akhil Pilapitiya on his characterisation of the ‘Artful Dodger’.

Fagin is no longer a Jewish criminal but instead is presented as an Indian by Seth Keerthiratne who tells us that they have moulded the story to their liking. Speaking of the challenges he faced undertaking this role he told us, “This particular role was way out of my comfort zone as Fagin is someone who looks after the crew and I am not used to playing that fatherly figure so I felt the best way to do that was to look like a father figure and hence the beard.”

The loyal best friend of Nancy, Bet will be played by Yanghi Sherpa who adds that the show has allowed many the opportunity to work with students from different grades while learning a lot from the more experienced actors as well.

“If we start with staging, we are literally opening up the boundaries of what Oliver could be. It is a must-see play because we think we have taken a new twist to the story whilst keeping the story as is,” grins Seth as he tells us why OSC’s ‘Oliver!’ is a production audiences shouldn’t miss out on.

Tickets for the play are priced at  Rs. 650 and are available at the
Overseas School of Colombo Business Office.

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