Newcastle High School for Girls perform ‘Oliver!’ at Northern Stage

More than 100 Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG) pupils will step into the limelight at Northern Stage from January 24th-26th for the school’s production of the musical adaption ‘Oliver Twist’.

For the ninth year in a row, actors at the girls’ school will get the opportunity to perform on a professional stage. Three NHSG teachers – Anna Dobson, production director, Julie Bowman, choreographer, and David Newey, musical director – are guiding students through preparations for the new year performance.

“We, as directors, chose ‘Oliver’ as it allows a big cast and ensemble with a great variety of characters and an interesting narrative,” said Dobson. “The play includes classics such as ‘I’d do anything’ and is suitable for families with young children.”

Students from year 7 to 13 will be taking part in the massive production, which was proposed at the school’s end of year assembly earlier this summer. Those chosen to play the main characters have had to pass several rounds of auditions.

“It represents one of the highlights of being at our school – it’s such an exciting project where the girls make great memories and learn about themselves,” said Dobson. “But the girls have to be committed as such a big performance is great effort, and all next to their normal school work”.

However, the school tries to minimise any effects on GCSEs and A-Levels, which is why “it’s so early on in the academic year,” she added.

It’s not until the weeks before the performance that Dobson, Bowman and Newey bring all the components of the play together.

“At first, Julie Bowman’s choreography always seems way too hard for the girls to learn. But then, most of the girls [have been] danc[ing] since junior school and their progress is amazing,” said Dobson.  The orchestra consists of students going to Newcastle University, ex-students of NHSG and professionals backed up by NHSG students, under the baton of David Newey.

“The great thing about the play is that all creative departments of the school are somehow involved,” Dobson said. The head of art offered to do a painting and experiments for the food props need to be conducted. Costumes are either bought and made by the pupils or hired. However, the main set is built by Northern Stage, inspired by the school’s ideas.

Tickets for the performance are available here.