PERFORMING in front of large audiences might seem a daunting task to most people, but not, it seems, the young stars of Oliver! who will be showcasing their talents at Rhodes Bishop’s Stortford next month.
Phoenix Theatre students Jake Poolman and Will Edden - who will be playing Oliver and Dodger respectively - took time out from rehearsals to tell the Observer why they love being on stage and why audiences are in for a real treat.
Although just 14-years-old, Will is an old hand at performing having been doing so since he was seven.
As well as shows in the local area with Phoenix, he has landed roles in Cameron Mackintosh’s national touring production of Oliver! and starred as Gavroche in the West End’s Les Miserables.
“I don’t get nervous; I’m used to being on stage now,” said Spurs fan Will, who attends Richard Hale secondary school in Hertford.
“It’s no different being at Rhodes to the West End, as there is still the same atmosphere.”
And 10-year-old Jake, who also starred in the national Oliver! tour this year, is just as un-phased.
“I get excited when I go on stage,” he said. “We just enjoy ourselves and give the audience a good performance; if we have a good time then so do they.
“The stage is my home.”
The pair have been taking time out from their summer holidays for rehearsals, which have involved exercises and games to help them get into character.
“It’s quite easy to get into character as sometimes they are a bit like us,” said Will. “I’ve got the same accent.”
“And I’m a bit innocent sometimes!” quipped Jake, who has recently followed in Will’s footsteps by beating off almost 40 other hopefuls to land the role of Gavroche in Les Mis.
The boys’ on stage success does mean they sometimes have to take time out from school but they don’t miss out, as they are tutored while on tour and their teachers are highly supportive of them.
Looking ahead, Will is about to start concentrating on his GCSEs and hopes to go on to stage school in the future, as well as getting into film and television.
Jake has his sights set on playing The Phantom, his dream role.
But for now, the focus is on Oliver!
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Will. “It’s a great experience and if you can’t get down to London you can come and see the show here where it will be just as good!”
And Phoenix principal Phil Dale certainly agrees.
“It’s the most talented group of kids I’ve ever managed to get together for one show,” he said.
“People expect to go ‘aww weren’t they great’ when they see kids in shows but what they will get with this is almost opposite – these kids are better than a lot of the adults we’ve got; it doesn’t get any better than this.”
The production runs at Rhodes for seven performances between Wednesday, September 26 and Sunday, September 30.
Tickets are on sale now at www.rhodesbishopsstortford.org.uk or by calling (01279) 651746.