Ripon's Benjamin Freeman talks about his role in Oliver! with Ripon Operatic Society coming to Harrogate Theatre in April

Oliver! is coming to Harrogate Theatre with a cast of 40 - including 25 children aged from six - who promise you will consider yourself in for a good time.

By Sue Wilkinson
Friday, 1st April 2022, 11:05 am
Updated Friday, 1st April 2022, 11:08 am
Benjamin Freeman plays Oliver - the orphan who falls in with Fagin's gang of thieves - in Lionel Bart's hit musical
Benjamin Freeman plays Oliver - the orphan who falls in with Fagin's gang of thieves - in Lionel Bart's hit musical

Lionel Bart’s musical, presented by Ripon Operatic Society, has been postponed because of the pandemic.

The show follows the fortunes of an orphan who falls in with a gang of thieves and is packed with hit songs from Consider Yourself to Where is Love and Food Glorious Food to Reviewing the Situation.

We talk to 11-year-old Benjamin Freeman about playing the title role.

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Why did you want to take on the role of Oliver?

I have been to see things that my mum has been in with the society and it looked fun. I am a chorister at Ripon Cathedral so I am used to singing in front of large groups of people.

How are you preparing?

I tried growing my hair shaggy. We are running the show in rehearsals so I have been able to get into the character of Oliver and my brother Daniel - who is also in the show - and I sing the songs around the house.

How did you feel when lockdown postponed the show?

As time went on I began to feel more and more like we would never get to do it.

How did you keep yourself busy during lockdown?

Because it was such great weather, my brothers and I were outside down by the river, in the fields around Ripon and on our bikes out on the country roads a lot.

We learnt to fish and helped to look out for an elderly neighbour - doing his shopping and trying to grow vegetables in his garden. I continued my chorister training online and some schoolwork.

Do you have any other hobbies?

I play tennis and am a member of Ripon Tennis Club. I play cricket for Ripon Under-13s, love playing football. I also play the piano.

Would you consider a career in performing?

It is just for fun for now. I’m not really sure what I’d like to do when I am older.

How did you feel when it was confirmed the show would go ahead?

It was an unbelievably happy feeling, It felt like there was real hope that life was going to come back to us.

What is your favourite part of the show?

I like it when Mr Bumble says “the problem Madam, is MEAT!” because I know that my mum will be laughing at it but my favourite bit is when Oliver escapes from the undertakers because I leave a real mess behind me.

Why should audiences come and see it?

All the family can enjoy it. It has great songs and everyone feels part of the action. Also we all need a good excuse to get out and enjoy ourselves.

Oliver! runs at Harrogate Theatre from Wednesday April 20 to Saturday April 23, daily at 7.30pm with matinees on Thursday April 21 and Saturday April 23 at 2.30pm.

Tickets: 01423 502116.