LIVE performances will be back soon at a North East school as pupils make final preparations for the musical Oliver! after a two-year delay.

The popular Lionel Bart musical based on the Dickens novel Oliver Twist will be staged at Barnard Castle School from February 7-10, the first performance since the COVID-19 lockdown saw Made in Dagenham close after a single show.

Director Scott Edwards, who is Director of Drama at Barnard Castle School, chose Oliver! for its variety of parts allowing him to open the 38-strong cast production to all year groups from Year 7 to Upper Sixth.

The lead of Oliver went to Year 8 student Freddie Wootton, 13, of Hamsterley, who has been appearing in television adverts since he was 13-months-old and performed in a review called Orthodox.

He said: “I was delighted to get the lead and have been really enjoying rehearsals. There has been a lot of uncertainty because of the pandemic but you just learn to live with it.”

Rehearsals began back in September, but the original shows were postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Mr Edwards said: “It has been challenging because of the pandemic and fitting around schooling but the students have been tremendous, showing true resilience and, thanks to a lot of commitment, are really getting there with their performances, which will make for a great show.”

Tickets are available through Eventbrite at