Primary Performers present Oliver this weekend

Performing: Cast Harper Coverdale, Dayna Haberfield, Hayley Stephens, Archie Pickett and Isaac Van Kempen (rear). Picture: Rob Gunstone
Performing: Cast Harper Coverdale, Dayna Haberfield, Hayley Stephens, Archie Pickett and Isaac Van Kempen (rear). Picture: Rob Gunstone

The gift that keeps giving, Warrnambool’s Primary Performers, will present its latest theatrical production Oliver at the Lighthouse Theatre this weekend.

This weekend’s production involves 90 primary school-aged children, supported by a small army of family, friends and former performers who bring the many parts of the juggernaut together. 

For co-directors Kerrie and Richard Ziegeler Oliver will be their 16th production and part of their consuming passion for theatre.

Kerrie Ziegeler said Oliver, adapted from the Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, was a timeless story and involved lots of singing and dancing.

She said she and her husband had directed the musical for Primary Performers 12 years ago and it was among their favorites.

The plot mixed some of the pathos of child exploitation that was prevalent during Dickens’ time with humour, Ms Ziegeler said.

She said the play gave the children a chance to learn about history as well as have fun and work as a team.

Ms Ziegeler said many of the children performing had been in previous Primary Performers productions.

Among them is Isaac Van Kempen, 12, who plays the role of the undertaker, Mr Sourberry, to whom Oliver is apprenticed.

Oliver is Isaac’s fourth Primary Performers production and he hopes to continue to be involved in the theatre after he graduates from primary school this year.

He said he joined the company because it looked like fun and his impression had been correct. It was not only the fun of performing but also the fun of working with different people, he said.

Isaac’s mother has worked on the hairdressing for the performers in every production that he has been involved in, exemplifying the big family involvement in Primary Performers.

Richard Ziegeler said Primary Performers, which has been introducing youngsters to theatre for at least 22 years, had created a strong theatre legacy for Warrnambool.

Many of the youngsters went on to be involved in Warrnmabool’s Holiday Actors for teenagers and then into adult theatre. Several had gone on to be professional actors.

The self-confidence the children developed performing was also often carried into their time at school with many thriving in debating teams or becoming school leaders.

“But the best part is all the family get involved,” Mr Ziegeler said.

Oliver will be performed for schools this Friday afternoon and for the public at 6.30pm on Friday night and at 2pm on Saturday.