(From left) Keanu Enns as Fagin, Laura Ossa as Oliver and Matthew Constantine as Mr. Bumble pose for a quick photo. The trio, along with the majority of their classmates at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Langford will be presenting Oliver! The Musical, this week.

Langford students transformed into English orphans

Musical adaptation of Oliver Twist set to take the stage

The curtain will soon rise on a musical performance that’s sure to delight audiences of all ages.

“It’s very difficult, but they’re doing it,” said teacher Bea Oertel, the director for Lighthouse Christian Academy’s production of Oliver! The Musical, which opens its three-show run Wednesday night in the theatre at Spectrum school in Saanich. “They rose to the challenge … It’s going to be great fun.”

The reason Oertel chose Oliver, she said, “is because there are so many orphans in world today.” Taking that theme a step further, various agencies will be at the performances promoting programs to sponsor orphans in areas such as Africa and the Middle East. “It’s not only 19th-century England, but 2016 as well … We want to raise awareness about orphans in the world today.”

Focusing on her students, Oertel said, “it’s been a really great experience.”

A number of the parts have been split between two actors, who will alternate performances. This was done in case one of the students couldn’t perform, she said. The show must go on and this way, all their bases are covered. “I’ve had a great team of actors,” Oertel added.

Playing the role of Oliver Twist in Thursday’s performance is Grade 10 student Laura Ossa.

“I’m really looking forward to see how it all comes together,” she said.

No stranger to the stage, Ossa is coming off performances with the Sooke School District’s PACE program. Her favourite part of this experience has been watching the group gel. She added, “I’m really looking forward to the teamwork.”

Playing the role of Fagin tonight and Friday is Grade 12 student Keanu Enns. He’s enjoyed working on the play all semester and watching “everyone gain that new level of confidence.”

He admitted he still gets nervous before each show. “When you get there, your body gets shaky, but consciously you’re okay.”

Grade 11 student Matthew Constantine, playing Mr. Bumble on Thursday, said those nerves are only temporary. “Once you get towards the middle or end, you start to realize you got this,” he said.

His favourite part of preparing for the play has been the vocal coaching.

That’s an activity that has helped many students, Oertel said. “It’s really great to see the kids develop gifts they didn’t know they had.”

She noted one of her leading actors didn’t know he could sing and was never encouraged to do so. Once they started rehearsals, they discovered he had quite a spectacular voice.

“Since the beginning of the semester, we’ve been practising every week … and we’re ready,” Oertel said. Based on Charles Dickens’ book Oliver Twist, the production will see students from all grade levels lend a hand. Younger students will even make an appearance in some of the songs, which Constantine said is really cute to watch.

“It’s an all school effort … It’s kind of crazy,” Oertel added.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

Theatre this week:

What: Lighthouse Christian Academy presents Oliver! The Musical

When: May 11, 12, 13

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: Spectrum school theatre, 957 Burnside Rd. West.

Admission: $10 for 12-older, $5 for 11-under

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