FCT Picks Oliver!

Apr 19 2022 | By More

Forth Children’s Theatre picks a pocket of Oliver! for return

Forth Children’s Theatre returns to live this week with a new production of Oliver!, playing the Edinburgh Tabernacle at Inverleith Gardens from Wednesday through to Saturday 23 April 2022.

The production is directed by Lewis C. Baird, with choreography from Taylor Doig and vocal coaching from Erin Munro. And it comes with its own twist: both Oliver and Dodger are played by young female leads.

Honor Llewellin (Dodger) and Martha Broderick (Oliver). Pic: FCT.

The production is Baird’s first time at the helm of FCT, although before lockdown he directed and wrote Tin Tub Theatre’s production of Cinderella at North Edinburgh Arts Centre and produced the company’s run of A Clockwork Orange at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe.

Æ asked Baird how working with the youth theatre compares to students. It is a “bit different” he told Æ, adding: “but actually you find that the younger performers have more energy than those experienced performers, just because the full experience is fresh and so exciting to them.

“Of course, we have Covid measures in place and, at first, I think there were some performers holding back because they were nervous and the whole experience is new to them or they were getting back into the swing of things.

“But now the cast are performing as if they are professional and there hasn’t been a break at all!”

gold-plated production

FCT has chosen a gold-plated production in returning to live with, in Oliver!, the musical by Lionel Bart based on Dickens’ Oliver Twist which contains a seemingly endless stream of hit songs – from Food Glorious Food, to Where is Love? and You’ve got to Pick a Pocket of Two.

The cast of Oliver! Pic: FCT

The musical follows 9-year-old orphan Oliver Twist as he falls in with a group of street-urchin pickpockets led by the Artful Dodger and masterminded by the criminal Fagin. When Oliver’s intended mark, Mr. Brownlow takes pity on the lad and offers him a home, the formidable Bill Sikes plots to kidnap the boy to keep him from talking.

Oliver! is fantastic,” enthuses Baird. “It is a very dark musical with some of the themes and issues explored, however, in this production we really want to heighten some of the joyous comedy or the wonderfully bonkers characters.

“The funeral parlour scene is so farcical, our Mr and Mrs Sowerberry are both bonkers and villainous as they should be. That’s Your Funeral will show these brutal characters in their prime.

“Our Artful Dodgers, Honor and Orla, bring so much energy and confidence into Consider Yourself, along with a fabulous ensemble tap sequence halfway through the number.

energetic and fun

“I think everyone loves Consider Yourself and also of course Oom-pah-pah. They are just big energetic and fun songs. But also what Taylor, our choreographer, has done with Who Will Buy? is utterly stunning. I don’t want to spoil too much, but the dance sequence is something really special and very beautiful.”

Alongside such entertaining numbers, the show has a dark side. Dickens was writing to expose some of the worst excesses in society – child exploitation, male on female violence and exploitation – and also trying to show how his middle class readers were complicit in turning a blind eye.

“This production absolutely celebrates this young cast finally performing this musical on stage,” says Baird. “But to do that you need to explore the dark themes and issues that come with Oliver!. It’s important that everyone in the cast understands what’s actually happening in scenes, but explaining it in a suitable matter.

“It’s all about reactions, directing this show has had moments of getting the cast to react to situations they might not necessarily understand or have experienced. But the moments of darkness truly have the tension and tone they need to resonate with the audience thanks to the talented young actors.”


Edinburgh Tabernacle, 41-42 Inverleith Gardens, EH3 5PR
Wed 20 – Sat 23 April 2022
Evenings: 7.30pm; Mat Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: book here.

Full cast:

The cast of Oliver! Pic: FCT

Oliver Twist: Martha Broderick and Isla Swain
Artful Dodger: Honor Llewellin and Orla Harrison.
Nancy: Mhairi Smith
Bill Sykes/Mr Sowerberry: Joe Tulloch
Fagin/Noah/Mr Brownlow: Corin Wake
Mr Bumble: Bobby Duncan (Dance Captain)
Bett: Emma Swain
Mrs Sowerberry: Kaitlyn Frew (Dance Captain)
Charlotte/Maid: Jenna Masson
Widow Corney: Erin Munro

The children’s ensemble are: Bibi Coane, Calum Caulfield, Clodagh Macleay, Elissa Obeid, Ella Spoor, Erin Whitson, Evie Hudson, Freya Jardine, Hariot Currie-Mullan, Imogen Marshall, Isla Finlay, Jennifer Love, Jessica Alcock, Kali Phair, Lily Welsh, Lucy Gordan, Megan Digman and Ruaraidh Murray.


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