Oliver gets its Fagin

100 kids, 50 adult cast members, and about 50 people in the backstage crew

AIMEE CRONIN
Last updated 10:50 20/06/2012

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For Richard O'Brien, the journey to playing Fagin for Hamilton Operatic Society's Oliver started with a promise.

He once told society president Paul Mitchell "If you ever do Oliver, give me a call and I'll come play Fagin for you for nothing.

"Well, he gave me the call a lot quicker than I imagined, and I was very happy to do it." The cast and crew have packed into Founders Theatre and have three rehearsals before opening night this Saturday.

"It's been nothing but pleasure, great pleasure," said O'Brien of the rehearsal process. "And it's remarkable – everybody coming along – you'd never be able to do a show like this commercially, because you're never going to have this many people on stage."

There are 100 kids, 50 adult cast members, and about 50 people in the backstage crew. Plus an award-winning english bull terrier that has only come on board in the past few days.

Director David Sidwell said the dog had been "like the kids, really, looking all around, getting used to the set and theatre. It's all new and fascinating and a big adventure for them."

The Oliver set was shipped to Hamilton from Invercargill Musical Theatre and worked on over several months in a hall at Claudelands Events Centre. Producer Jason Wade said about 70 per cent of the set arrived and there were no plans showing how to put it together.

Costumes have also been months in the making. Wade estimated there are more than 500 of them.

The budget of $300,000 has meant the production will look every bit as slick as a professional one, but cast and crew are working for nothing. O'Brien believes the quality of performances is of a professional standard.

"The population isn't big enough to sustain [professionals], so you're working with people who are doing the best they can ... and they're right on the money. We don't have a weak link in the entire show. The boys are fantastic; Oliver and the Artful Dodger are fantastic."  

Hamilton Operatic Society's Oliver opens this Saturday and runs until July 7. For more information, Visit hamiltonoperatic.co.nz; to buy tickets go to ticketek.co.nz.

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