Director Jonathan Burgess looks at 19 years-old actor Lucas Levy with a sense of envy.
Because Lucas has been cast in a role that Jonathan always wanted to play.
The colourful character of villain, Fagin, is one of the most popular in the musical ‘Oliver,’ which opens at the Millennium Forum on Thursday night (July 28th).
“My acting days are long over,” said Jonathan who has spent the last three weeks in intense rehearsals with the 50 strong cast. And he admits he has a soft spot for the Fagin solo ‘Reviewing the Situation.’
“I enjoy Fagin,” he said, “ I’d love to play him.”
This is Jonathan’s 10th year in the director’s chair for the Millennium Forum Youth Production’s annual show.
And for him it’s an excellent way to introduce young people into the competitive and hard working world of acting.
“This was all David McLaughlin’s (Millennium Forum Chief Executive) idea,” said Jonathan.
“Over the 10 years we have brought the young people in, started them off and given them that experience.
“It’s a free resource but it is all based on talent. They come, they audition and we take it from there
“It is four weeks of rehearsing from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. By the time it comes to the end of the day we’ve been working so hard the practice room has got smelly. The graft that goes on is phenomenal.
“But by the time the young people have gone through this four week process they will know whether they want to be in this business or not.”
The Derry director said the annual show is the job that he enjoys the most during the year.
And he told the young people who didn’t get a role this year not to be disappointed, and never give up.
“Keep trying,” he said. “It might feel harsh when you don’t get in. It’s not that you weren’t good, just that this year you weren’t right.”
Eight years-old Sioda McCay who takes centre stage as the title character Oliver, not only has all his own lines nailed down, but the rest of the cast.
“I love acting,” he said. “It’s the best thing because you get to pretend to be someone else and it is all imagination. My favourite song is ‘Who will Buy?’ I don’t think I will be nervous when the musical is on.
“If I get nervous I’ll just pretend that the people are not there and I am at home practising with my mammy.”
Taking stage as lovable rogue ‘Dodger’, Malachy Kitson said he has been given an “amazing” role.
“When I auditioned I thought I would just get a background part,” he said. “This was unexpected.
“Dodger is a great character because although he is a ‘baddin’ people still like him because he isn’t as bad as Bill Sykes.
“I’m looking forward to singing my solo ‘Consider Yourself’ and ‘I’d Do Anything.’
“We are looking forward to opening night.”
19 years-old Lucas Leavy who travels into Derry every day from Coleraine, said the long days at rehearsal are all worth it, especially as he managed to get the role of Fagin.
“Playing a much older character is difficult and it took a while to get there.
“Most people who play Fagin are around the same age as him and can play it happy and jumpy, this is an extra hurdle for me. A sprightly 50 year old is a difficult thing to try and play but I think I have got there now.
“I am most looking forward to singing ‘Reviewing the Situation’ because you are on stage alone and have the audience to yourself.
“The four weeks have been amazing and I’d encourage more young people to keep going for it. It’s not easy when you don’t get a part, but only one person can get one part.”
As Nancy, Una Morrison is not only taking on her first ever lead role, but she also has to deal with her first ever death scene.
“It’s scary but it is a lot of fun too,” said the performing arts student. Getting the accent was scary at the start but I think I have got it now. I’ve been acting since I was six and went to Miss Biddle.
“It’s exciting that I get to be murdered in Oliver.
“My favourite song is: ‘It’s a fine life.’
Oliver is under the direction of Jonathan Burgess and musical direction of Alan Wright, with choreography by Nadine Hegarty.
It runs from Thursday, July 28th until Saturday, July 30th at the Millennium Forum.
Tickets are now available from the Box Office.
Telephone 71-264455 or visit www.millenniumforum