Musical spectacular Oliver! dazzles Lund

By Sophie Bennett, Assistant Head (Partnerships and Public Relations)

Last night was the final night of the spectacular run of Oliver! at UCS Hampstead. The school’s very first whole school production marked the return of musical theatre to the Lund Theatre after a three-year hiatus and my, what a return it was!

When Director of Drama, Connor Abbott, announced his plans for the musical spectacle back in the summer, more than 100 pupils auditioned for a role in an audition process that lasted three months. The cast and crew totalled over 50 pupils whose ages spanned the entire Senior School and the camaraderie of the children on stage last night showed that firm friendships had been forged in putting together the show.

Milo in the Shell (Year 8) stunned audiences with his portrayal of Oliver, especially the way in which he stormed through all of the musical’s classic songs. What a voice! What a talent! Milo is sure to tread the boards of the Lund many more times throughout his UCS career. Memorable highlights included Milo’s magnetic and charming performance of ‘I’d Do Anything’ with Beatrice in the Transitus (Year 12) who played Nancy. Beatrice, new to UCS in September, also dazzled with her pitch-perfect voice and portrayal of Nancy as Oliver’s eventual protector.

There were too many standout performances to name-check but two that certainly deserved another (and there were plenty this week!) round of applause are Elijah (Year 13) and Luka (Year 10) for their brilliant runs as Fagin and the Artful Dodger respectively. The dynamic duo of pickpockets, both flawed and complicated characters, enchanted the Lund audiences with their quick and witty quips as well as stunning navigation of the musical numbers.

Back stage, the orchestra worked their way through crowd-pleasing classic after crowd-pleasing classic. Safe in the hands of Christopher Dawe, Director of Music, the 14-strong group added musical flair and boundless talent to proceedings. Speaking of talent, Lionel Bart’s time-honoured songs were enriched by the choreography of Rose Tran, Head of Dance, whose work with the company over recent weeks and months enabled them to move with confidence and synchronicity on stage.

No UCS musical is complete without the tireless work of UCS Drama stalwarts Martin Hutchings, Theatre Manager, and Carys Bedford, Drama Technician. Their set, production, lighting design and leadership of much of the creative team (mostly staffed by UCS pupils) were instrumental in facilitating the joyful display that graced the Lund.

This week showed that the Performing Arts are very much alive, thriving and under wonderful leadership at UCS. Oliver! brought pupils and audiences together to share in something utterly joyful. As Mr Abbott said in the programme, “pupils from every year group have gathered after school to dance in unison, sing together and act side by side, with younger pupils raising their game to meet the example set by their older peers. This production has been crafted by pupils who, regardless of age, Deme [House] or year group, share a restless dedication to the Performing Arts.”

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