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Kids set to shine on Port Hope stage

Port Hope

Capitol Theatre casts local children in musical production of Oliver

Northumberland News article; August 3, 2012 written by: Jeanne Beneteau

PORT HOPE — Budding young thespians are learning the ropes from seasoned pros on Port Hope Festival Theatre’s stage this summer.

A lucky group of 10 local children, aged nine through 14, have been cast in the role of ‘Fagin’s boys’ and the children’s chorus in the Capitol Theatre’s musical production of ‘Oliver’, which opens Aug. 2 and runs through Aug. 26.

One of the young actors, nine-year-old Jenna LeFrancois, a student at Cobourg’s C.R. Gummow Public School, said she loves to appear on stage. She’s had acting parts in Northumberland Players Youth Theatre Camp productions such as ‘Peggy, the Pint-sized Pirate’, where she was cast in the role of ‘Captain’.

In Oliver, Jenna plays Nicholas Archer, a small but feisty orphan who follows and goes along with his older, more seasoned members of Fagin’s entourage.

“I’m small but I’m strong, but too shy to fight,” said Jenna of her character. “And the other kids look out for me.”

Jenna, who is aspiring to a career in the theatre, said she’s having a wonderful time as part of the Oliver crew,  ”I am making new friends, learning a lot of dance stuff and learning how things are done in the real theatre,” she said. “And everyone is so nice.”

One of the professional actors in the production is Blair Irwin, who plays the title role. Ms. Irwin is delighted to be back in Port Hope for the summer after playing what she called “my dream role” of Penny in last year’s festival theatre production of ‘Hairspray.’

The Halifax native said there is always a bit of trepidation when working with children both on and off the stage.  ”You never know which way it will go, but from the first read-through of the script, I relaxed when I realized what an awesome group of kids they are,” said Ms. Irwin of the local child actors. “They are really working hard, working well as a team, with absolutely no attitude… they’re normal kids doing extraordinary things.”

One of the oldest of Fagin’s boys, ‘Willy’, is played by Sadie Cahill, a 13-year-old Port Hope High School student.  Sadie described her character as “very big and scary” who takes it upon himself to protect the others.  ”I love to perform and the role of Willy allows me to look into my character… what would he do and how would he feel watching out for the smaller kids?” she said.

Sadie is no stranger to the stage, with roles in past Northumberland Players productions such as ‘Annie’ and Cinderella Christmas’, to her credit. She has been dancing since age three, studying a wide range of styles including ballet, mixed jazz, tap, hip-hop and musical theatre.

“I love to sing and I love to dance and there is a lot of singing and dancing in Oliver,” Sadie explained. “And I also love working with the younger kids.”  The high school student has her future sights set on one day running her own dance studio.  ”That’s my ultimate goal,” said Sadie. “I want to teach kids to dance, to do the thing I love to do.”

The musical, ‘Oliver’ is an adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens tale, ‘Oliver Twist’, where an orphan meets a pickpocket on the streets of London. From there, Oliver joins a household of boys who are trained to steal for their master, Fagin. The family-friendly production features musical numbers such as: ‘Food, Glorious Food’; ‘I’d Do Anything’; ‘Consider Yourself’; ‘As Long As He Needs Me’; and ‘Reviewing the Situation’, among others.

‘Oliver’ opens Aug. 2 and runs through Aug. 26, with selected evening and matinee performances. Tickets are $28 for matinee performances and $32 for evening presentations.

For a listing of show dates and times or tickets, visit capitoltheatre.com, or call/visit the theatre box office, 20 Queen St., Port Hope, 1-800-434-5092 or 905-885-1071.

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