Press Release


Tiverton Gazette


November 27th 2007

Willow Tree show will leave you asking for more

  It is that time of year again when local theatre is in full flow, and amazing talent seems in evidence at every performance.
  Tiverton's Willow Tree Theatre Company is no exception, and is busy rehearsing and preparing for their seasonal production of the well-known and popular musical Oliver.
  Although preparations for the production first started in September; the weeks are galloping on and it will not be long before the show is due on stage for its first public performance on Monday.  Directed by Jon Sowden, with the able assistance of musical director Hilary Wickham, the players are following a tight schedule.
  Members had to audition for all the parts, and particularly in the case of young Oliver, competition was stiff.
  Ten year-old Dominic Jones has only ever acted in school plays before, although he has taken part in Willow Tree's end-of-term shows in the past, where he has participated in singing or dancing roles.  "When I auditioned, my mother helped me to learn the words," he said.  He was up against seven other young people for the part, and had to undertake three different auditions before finally being awarded the chance to play the leading role.
  The young actor told me:  "I am thrilled."  Neither of his parents has been able to attend any rehearsals, which, for Dominic, is to the good.  "I can't wait for them to see the show," he said.

  Denise James, who has to find suitable outfits for 50 members of cast, ranging from eight year olds upwards, creates all the costumes.  In Victorian times - which is when the story is set - there was no difference, except in size, between the clothes worn by children and adults.  Jackets, waistcoats, hats, caps, bonnets, boots, shawls, scarves, petticoats, skirts, and corsets; they have all got to be sourced or made.
  Then, of course, there are whiskers, beards and moustaches, ringlets and curls - not an easy task.
  Produced by Steve Gage - who also plays the nasty character Bill Sykes - the show is to be staged at Tiverton's New Hall and runs for approximately two and a half hours.
  The part of the Artful Dodger is to be played by 12-year-old Connor Van Bussel, a young performer who has a naturally cheerful and cheeky demeanour, making him perfect as the innocent Oliver's mentor in the pickpocket gang.
  Keith Thomas is Fagin to a T, as he teaches young Oliver how to "pick a pocket or two", and holds the stage in each of his scenes.
  The cast is vibrant and, although there is still some fine-tuning to be done, there is no doubt this will be another successful production.

Article by Penny Smale (Youth News)