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MORE!! Felsted School’s production of Oliver left the audience asking for seconds





The grimy streets of Dickensian England were brought to life in Felsted School’s Grignon Hall recently as pupils staged a production of Lionel Bart’s much-loved musical ‘Oliver!’ to the rapturous applause of audiences.

More than a hundred pupils aged nine to 18 took on roles in the spotlight and behind the scenes as part of a rotation of three casts and crew to present six performances of the popular show in the school’s historic on-campus theatre.

Taking the main part of Oliver, the orphan boy who falls in with a crowd of petty thieves and pickpockets, were Joseph C (Year 9), Zach OD (Year 9) and Anna SO’B (Year 10), while notorious gang leader Fagin was played by Alex TA (Year 13) and Matilda S (Year 13).

Felsted students in years 5 to 13 bewitched, bedazzled and enthralled audiences over 6 performances - featuring Matilda S, Year 13, as Fagin
Felsted students in years 5 to 13 bewitched, bedazzled and enthralled audiences over 6 performances - featuring Matilda S, Year 13, as Fagin

‘It was an amazing experience to be involved with and really took me out of my comfort zone,’ said Anna SO’B. ‘Performing in front of a sold-out audience of family and friends and remembering all the lines and stage directions was quite daunting but I am so pleased I managed to do it and my confidence has had a real boost.’

Sixth Form cast members led from the front in rehearsals, while Upper Sixth Form student Isla I took on the responsibility of co-choreographer. Younger cast members attended rehearsals with dedication and cheerfully applied themselves to learning lines and lyrics, and practising the very complicated choreography.

Pupils from the Prep School brought great energy to the chorus and ensemble dance routines. Behind the scenes, the student crew worked hard learning about theatrical make-up, costume and props and operating the theatre’s professional sound and lighting systems. Musical accompaniment was provided by a band specially assembled for the production and consisting of talented pupils as well as staff.

Joseph C, Year 9, in his portrayal of ‘Oliver’
Joseph C, Year 9, in his portrayal of ‘Oliver’

‘Preparing a musical in a little over two months is no small task and the commitment and talent of our students has completely overwhelmed me,’ said Carly Bartlett, Felsted’s Director of Drama, of her first production since joining the school. ‘We have had enormous fun in the rehearsal room and they made this whole experience a complete pleasure.’

Felsted pupils stage a large-scale production, either a musical or a play, every year and many other dramatic performances take place in school or in the community each term. Drama is on the curriculum for pupils aged four to 14 and is a popular option at GCSE and A Level, and individual or group drama lessons leading to the national LAMDA exams are also enthusiastically taken up by pupils of all ages and led by professional actors.

‘As with all things that are of such a high standard, the final performance is only a small part of the process,’ said Felsted Head Chris Townsend. ‘Many pupils and staff members have worked very hard over weeks and months in order to deliver this exceptional production of ‘Oliver!’. As well as developing teamwork, those involved also have to be experts at self-organisation, they have to learn to prioritise effectively and they are improving their skills in front of an audience, which could be crucial for future careers.’

Felsted offers its pupils an abundance of co-curricular opportunities to balance their academic careers; from Journalism, CCF and Duke of Edinburgh to Cookery, Debating and Creative Writing and many more besides. Felsted pupils are encouraged to develop as well-rounded individuals with wide interests and passions to take forward into their adult lives and make a positive difference in the world. “You won’t find many schools with a longer list of extracurricular options,” commented The Good Schools Guide. “There’s a great mix of opportunities in things such as music and sport - children have time to develop interests that they can take on with them later”.

Ariane J, Year 12, in her performance as ‘Nancy’
Ariane J, Year 12, in her performance as ‘Nancy’

Felsted School recently won Boarding School of the Year 2023 at the TES Schools Awards in June. To learn more about Felsted’s co-curricular offering, visit www.felsted.org/co-curricular.

Alex TA, Year 13, in the role of ‘Fagin’
Alex TA, Year 13, in the role of ‘Fagin’
‘Oom-Pah-Pah’ featuring Hannah P, Year 12, as ‘Nancy’
‘Oom-Pah-Pah’ featuring Hannah P, Year 12, as ‘Nancy’

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