Worthing boys step into Oliver Twist shoes in Brighton

We will get two Oliver Twists for the price of one this February half-term holiday when Brighton Theatre Group stage Lionel Bart's Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Brighton.
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Two boys from Worthing, Christian Ridley and William Barber, have secured the lead role of Oliver in the timeless Dickens tale and they will alternate during the run.

12-year-old Christian attends Worthing High School and 11-year-old William attends Lancing Prep Worthing. Both are thrilled to be in the final stages of rehearsals and loving the thought of a great opportunity to showcase their acting and singing skills on stage.

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Performances are from Wednesday, February 14-Saturday, February 17 – the tale of the life and death adventures of young orphan Oliver Twist, who through his education in the finer arts of pick-pocketing by none other than the Artful Dodger, finally pockets the greatest treasure of all – a home and a family of his own. Musical classics include Consider Yourself, Where is Love, You’ve Got To Pick a Pocket or Two, As Long as He Needs Me and It’s A Fine Life. Tickets on ATGTICKETS.COM/Brighton

Christian Ridley as Oliver (contributed pic)Christian Ridley as Oliver (contributed pic)
Christian Ridley as Oliver (contributed pic)

For William, it will be his first-time ever on the stage: “The reason I wanted to be on stage was because I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more about musical theatre. I've always really liked watching movies and I just thought I wanted to do something like that and a really good opportunity for me to be the best that I possibly can.”

Part of the challenge is that Oliver is such an interesting character, as Christian says: “He has been in an orphanage for his whole life and he is just lonely.

"He doesn't have many friends and he is desperate to find his mother and he goes on this journey to find her. I think he is a bit adventurous and I think it's quite easy to become the character. In the sadder moments you think of something really sad and in the happier moments you think of something really happy.”

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William agrees: “I think he is quite a complex character and also quite a straightforward character. As Christian says, he hasn't got any friends and you just have to imagine what it must have been like to have lived then. I would say that he is quite a shy character but yes, he is also adventurous. He walks seven days to London. He is quite brave. He stands up to Bill Sikes. He is quite posh. He came from a rich family but he was mistreated and it all got very chaotic.”

But obviously it's not just about the acting. It's also about the singing. As Christian says: “I do enjoy the singing. I've always wanted to sing from when I was younger. I just wanted to show everyone my voice and I love the songs Who Will Buy and I’d Do Anything.” For William, a particular favourite is Be Back Soon: “The songs are really nice to look forward to. It's nice to sing them because they tell the story.”

Christian admits that there might be a few nerves come showtime: “You think what if I mess it up or if it goes wrong but when you're on stage you know that it just feels good and you're looking forward to the claps at the end.”

Tickets from the venue.