This is the oldest script I own and one of my first forays into acting.
This was from a primary school production of ‘Oliver!’ put on in the spring/summer of 1994 when I was in Year 6.
The main characters were played by most of year six and year five, with the lower years taking on the positions of ‘background artists’, to be polite about it. They all got to sing along with most of the big numbers and do some dancing, so it was all cricket in the end.
I played two roles: the curmudgeonly Mrs Bumble and a nameless but tuneful (or not, you’ve not heard me sing…) milkmaid. I had two solo’s and some of the script to get my teeth into, so I can’t complain.
The teachers took it extremely seriously though – all wearing black ‘crew’ t-shirts and coaching us like little marines to make sure we got our words right.
One young man forgot the words to his big number during a matinee performance. He ran off stage crying.
This was serious stuff! But we all had a complete and total hoot. I was just chuffed that I had two costume changes and wore a rather revealing white gypsy top for my milkmaid outfit, complete with comedy-unreal buckets of ‘milk’ for me to carry. At the age of 11 when I performed this, it was trés grown up.
I always envied (in a good healthy way) Nichola Kinsella who played Nancy. She was just so gorgeous and talented! She even put on the best ever cockney accent too. Cor blimey, she brought the house down with her “As Long As He Needs Me”.
Ironically, this became a song very close to my heart in later years, for similar reasons to why the character sang it. Sorry… that was a bit cryptic, wasn’t it? Anyway, back to the production.
I remember freaking people out in the local shop when I went in with my mother to buy a drink, but in full stage make up. It wasn’t every day you got to see an 11 year old girl made up to look like a middle aged woman! I got a lot of funny looks. This sort of thing – of being in full make up and/or costume was certainly something I carried on throughout my brief but fun tenure as an actress.
We used the staff room as a dressing room for principle characters, which was basically me, Carla and Stephen sat at the teachers table in the middle of the room playing Uno.
Carla of course, played the Artful Dodger and she was amazing too. Her little brother played the eponymous hero of the musical, Oliver.
I loved playing my two little bits, but I’m useless without having an audience laugh, so it wasn’t quite me in all truth.
This script is my one reminder of this wonderful period in my young life, when I was at possibly my happiest as a child. It is extremely special to me and I will always treasure it.