Take a timeless musical, add a passionate and talented cast of kids and adults, throw in a birthday celebration and what have you got? A show that will leave audiences asking for more.
That’s certainly the aim of Shazam Theatre Company who are bringing the iconic Oliver! to the stage of Aberdeen Arts Centre from tonight.
And their artistic director Marie Skene says the cast can’t wait to see the curtain come up on what will be a very special show for the theatre group.
“It’s our fifth year and we are doing a joint production with our juniors and seniors who are aged eight to 30 and we have 45 of them in the cast,” she said.
“What’s nice is that we have had a really lovely family feel with the older ones helping the younger ones out with things like dance moves and the younger ones have the older ones to look up to.”
Oliver! is a big show, full of legendary numbers like Food Glorious Food, Who Will Buy, Consider Yourself, I’ll Do Anything and so many more familiar, catchy and haunting tunes.
Which is one of the reasons Shazam decided to take it on, said Marie.
“I think because it is so big that they all know it… it’s on every Christmas, so they know the songs from it. It’s good to let them get their teeth into something like this.”
And the company has been making sure everyone gets a chance to shine.
“It is a big cast and Shazam likes to give every young person an opportunity, so we have double cast the bigger roles to add more layers on to it,” said Marie.
“That way they all get an opportunity and we make sure that every child has a line to say on stage.”
The double casting means there will be two Olivers during the run – Erin Scaife and Leo Wood.
So why take what some might see as the bold move of casting a girl as Oliver?
“Because she’s really good,” said Marie. “And with Oliver being such a young part it really fits her voice as well.”
While the cast have been loving rehearsals and can’t wait to take to the stage, Marie is sure audiences will consider themselves well entertained.
“I just hope they enjoy it, that they like the good family feel of the show and they see how much the young people are enjoying themselves and the hard work they have put in to it,” she said.
It doesn’t hurt that Oliver! is a show with massive appeal.
“As well as the songs, it is just such a good story. “You have that good feeling at the end when Oliver finds his forever home.”
The show is also famed for its huge song and dance numbers… and Marie says Shazam are rising to the challenge, crediting some of the “seasoned pros” who have been with them for several years.
Marie said she was delighted that Shazam is now celebrating its fifth year.
“Our ethos is to allow young people the opportunity to take part in theatre, no matter where they are from or what their background is”
And those who have been on stage will be celebrating, too, before they head off for the company’s summer break.
“After the show they will come back and we will have a little party for them to celebrate. “It’s called the Shelli’s, it’s their awards ceremeony named after one of our volunteers, Michelle. So they get to come back and reminisce about the show then go off for summer,” said Marie.
“In November we are back at the Arts Centre to perform an Evening Celebration of Youth Theatre just to celebrate our five years and what we have achieved.”
But before that, there’s Oliver! and Marie has a simple message to audiences.
“Just come along, have fun and enjoy yourself… it really is a nice piece of theatre to come and see.”
Oliver! is at the Aberdeen Arts Centre from tonight until Saturday.