Ben Wooldridge, Press & PR Assistant, writes…
Spring is here; the sun is shining, the leaves are appearing on the trees and, most excitingly of all, Cameron Mackintosh’s Oliver! has finally opened on the Birmingham Hippodrome stage. Last night I found myself in my best suit (kept for only the most prestigious of press nights, of course) welcoming a mass of VIP’s and members of the media to the official press night of this spectacular new production. Our Oliver! branded chocolate coins proved to be a favourite for young (and old) guests and, I must admit, a personal highlight too.
Obviously, the evening went incredibly well and the fantastic performance was met with a standing ovation. However, when you sit and watch such a huge production like Oliver! it is easy to forget just how much effort goes on behind the scenes. The press team took a trip onto the stage earlier this week to see the final preparations going into the production ahead of the first performance, and what a busy place it was! Automation were busy testing flying pieces of scenery, staircases and descending bridges, whilst costume were readying the quick change area’s in ‘costume city’ set right behind the back cloth on stage (usually this part of a production is called ‘costume village’ but due to it’s sheer size it has aptly been renamed ‘costume city’) and the hundreds of props were being set in preparation for the run-through. It’s pretty incredible that back on Saturday evening a full-scale opera production was mounted on our stage then, with the help of our dedicated technical team, just three days later we are ready to open one of the largest productions touring the UK at this time.
A production such as this works like a finely oiled machine with every tiny detail given the same amount of attention, love and care…and with a company of between 125 and 130 people working on every single show it’s easy to see why!
As well as an adult company of 31, children are also obviously a vital cog in the workings of this production. There are 24 children in every given performance, with 3 teams of 12 who tour the country with the show as well as 2 teams of 12 local children who are recruited from all parts of the Midlands be it Coventry, Solihull, Wolverhampton and many more. That’s a lot of hungry mouth’s to feed as well as school, look after and change costume’s, which keeps the chaperones and Company Manager very busy indeed!
As soon as we open another exciting event will be the return of Mr. Brian Conley as he comes back to Birmingham Hippodrome to take over the role of Fagin on March 3rd from Neil Morrissey. Brian will be joined in rehearsal by Cat Simmons who will be taking the reigns of Nancy from Samantha Barks who leaves the show on the same date to join Hugh Jackman and co. to film the Les Miserables movie, how exciting!!!
In terms of being busy with such a fantastic production, I really couldn’t ask for MORE…
For more info on Oliver! CLICK HERE