Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Dukes "Oliver Twist" - Sneak Peek at this year's Walkabout show!

Oliver (Jerome Thompson) on the run with Dodger (Josie Cerise) and Fagin (Russell Richardson) in The Dukes "Oliver Twist". Photo: Darren Andrews
There’s a Twist to the UK’s biggest outdoor walkabout theatre event held in Lancaster this summer.

The award-winning Dukes theatre will present a new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ popular story – Oliver Twist – from 3rd July until 15th August.

Dickens’ wonderful characters – Fagin, the Artful Dodger, Nancy, Bill Sykes and the hideous Mr Bumble – will lead the audience on a journey through the magical open-air setting of Williamson Park transformed into Dickensian England with a Northern twist.

Along the way, they will see orphan Oliver thrown out of the workhouse and dragged into the park to be sold to the highest bidder but hidden deep in the woods, Fagin and his gang of tricksters and scoundrels lie in wait, living a life of adventure.

Fagin (Russell Richardson) gives pickpocketing tips to Oliver (Jerome Thompson). Photo: Darren Andrews

This rare theatrical experience follows in The Dukes tradition of providing memorable and critically acclaimed productions for all the family which have attracted more than 500,000 people since 1987.

This year’s production of Oliver Twist has been adapted by established theatre, television and radio writer Debbie Oates who has written for Coronation Street since 2002 and whose other credits include The Mill and Primeval.

The production stars Jerome Thompson as Oliver, who has been involved in a number of short film productions including The Screaming Man, released last year and the upcoming British feature film DON'T. STOP. RUNNING.

"Vertically challenged" actor Josie Cerise plays the Artful Dodger while teacher turned actor Andrew Ashford plays Charley Bates.

The Dukes Artistic Director, Joe Sumsion said: “There’s some stories which simply offer a delicious prospect for an outdoor walkabout production and Oliver Twist is one of them.

"The thought of relocating Dickens’ story to a Northern park is intriguing. I can’t wait to see the Artful Dodger, Nancy and Fagin at large in the woods whilst high above them Oliver and Mr Brownlow look out from the Ashton Memorial over Morecambe Bay.

"I doubt there will ever have been a version of Oliver Twist quite like this one and there’s a palpable air of excitement and anticipation about this show.”

A scene from Oliver Twist with Jerome Thompson (Oliver) and Victoria Brazier (Mr Fang). Photo: Darren Andrews

Performed throughout in Williamson Park, audiences can also enjoy the stunning sunset views across Morecambe Bay during the show.

The cast of The Dukes first outdoor promenade production in 1987 included Andy Serkis, who began his professional career at the Lancaster theatre 30 years ago as a student at Lancaster University, played Gollum in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings film trilogies and who will appear in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens later this year.

The Dukes now has a national reputation for producing outstanding outdoor walkabout theatre which has its own particular challenges.

During this summer’s show, The Dukes will use 16,500m of speaker cable, 5,700m of mains cable, 4,500m of data cable, 15 audio amplifiers, 4,000m of cable in the trees, at least 90 floodlights and 25 other hanging lights in the trees.

One of the quirkiest technical features is the milkfloat which travels between scenes housing the lighting and sound control panels and staff. Since 1987, four milk floats have been used.

• To book tickets for Oliver Twist which is recommended for anyone aged 5 plus, ring The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org

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