The crowds packed into New Hall for four brilliant shows and each and every time they left with gleaming smiles across their faces.

Hundreds of Chigwell pupils, their families, and staff proudly watched the 112-strong committed cast members of Year 7, 8, and 9 pupils in at least one performance of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!

Jr takes audiences on a wild adventure through Victorian England as the young, orphaned Oliver Twist attempts to navigate London's underworld of theft and violence, searching for a home, a family, and - most importantly - for love. When Oliver is picked up on the street the Artful Dodger, he is welcomed into a gang of child pickpockets led by the conniving, but charismatic, Fagin. When Oliver is falsely accused of a theft he didn’t commit, he is rescued by a kind and wealthy gentleman, to the dismay of Fagin’s violent partner in crime Bill Sikes. Caught in the middle is the warm-hearted Nancy, who is trapped under Bill’s thumb, but desperate to help Oliver, with tragic results.

We were delighted with the overwhelming volume of students who signed up to participate in the musical. Working with the students on this project has been an immense amount of fun and has really brought out the best in our students. From being able to dash quickly onto the stage to take part in a chorus number to commanding the audience’s attention with breath-taking solos and carefully choreographed scenes, our students have thrown themselves into the challenge with admirable energy and enthusiasm. They have endured long rehearsals after school, being told to ‘smile’ and ‘project’ at the end of a complete day of work, full of lessons and sporting events.

“Oliver was a brilliant production,” said the Head, Damian King. “All members of the cast were quite outstanding, and their performances were exceptional.”

Miss Ciara McCarthy, our talented Music teacher, and director of the play said: ‘We have so enjoyed working with our marvellously talented young pupils. To have had such a deep pool of talent to work with has been an immense privilege. Perhaps more importantly I would commend the manners, attitudes, and positivity of our students who have made this project such a joy to complete.’

The cast made us smile, they made us laugh and we were richly entertained.

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