Oliver 2006


Showtime! (27.7.06)


Both of you who read this know that anyway.



No more worrying about whether this show will get on the road – it’s there now – M25 going clockwise with no traffic – we did it all in one go last night plus a full evacuation – nobody died – we are all in one team called TEAM OLIVER – the bar works – there is a BBQ – and Enysford Castle will have more life going on inside it’s walls than it has seen since Camelot.

And with all best respect to TEAM CAMELOT, we are now, and we will give it our best shot and in doing so enjoy ourselves as only Riversiders can at what we do best – GO LARGE OUTDOORS.

I’ll Buy either of you a drink if you can prove they enjoy it more than me


Nearly there… (25.7.06)

NOW it’s D-Day minus 1…

The look of relief on Jack’s face when he realised the seating was definitely going to fit was quite heartwarming!

Also, hats off (and t-shirts, and everything else bar shorts and big boots) to the lads on the seating crew, who erected the seating under sweltering conditions yesterday.

Phil also spent the day helping the seating lads, but after his recent sojourn in the desert, was feeling the cold somewhat, so had to exercise vigorously just to keep warm. He also now knows not to jump in the back of a trailer with an iffy tow hitch

Commiserations to Vanessa and Jan, who, after getting fried while spraying fire retardant over everything yesterday, will now have to do it all again after last night’s rain…

Will has allegedly now got cold beer on tap in the beer tent, although I have yet to confirm this. I note that he carefully set the “Cold beer now” time for just after I left

Oh, and Giles and Mac went well beyond the call of duty, spending the morning shifting seating, after doing the Security night shift.

And Christian came down in his surfer gear, and stuck around to help even after it was obvious that he was completely out-tanned by even the pastiest of the seating crew. I did notice that he tried to avoid standing next to Shane, who had he been any more tanned, would have actually been covered with a layer of crackling…

By the pricking of my thumbs, Opening Night this way comes… (25.7.06)

D DAY minus 2

Wow that does sound scarey.

Today the seating arrives at around 8am; I wish Phil and his team all the luck in the world with the awful job of ferrying the units from the bus stop
and will be down as soon after Tricia’s appointment at the surgery as I am permitted, though I doubt I will be much use.

I will spend the next 7 hours sleeplessly, worrying that the 2 hours I spent siting and measuring the plot were not wasted and that the seating does fit.

If not my passport is ready and you won’t see me for dust.

The rehearsal last night was of great value; although all sorts of rough edges were on show, it will enable the technical crew (which includes my side of things) to see where they have to tighten up the slack.

The cast are showing that all those hours since February have been well spent, and that the people who come on first night will never know how hard you have all workded.

The last two reheasals are ahead of us now so we can all give it one big shot to explode onto our unsuspecting public.

2 updates today (well yesterday actually) (23.07.06)

D DAY minus 5 and now counting

The day started early for the scaffolders who are “Sound Scaffolding”, and I make no apology for the advert, becasue they were there once again at the crack of sparrow’s f**t. They have done us proud. Today they have moved loads of “tin” to give us all a lovely umberella, which bearing in mind the weather we had tonight – very heavy rain in Swanley – was rather handy!

Lee – top scaff geezer – had the job done and they were on their way to the pub well before one o’clock, enabling the hordes to descend and do some serious set stuff. Walls were built, taken down, built somewhere else and erected somewhere else pending a final decision, nails were hammered and staples by the million applied by people who have never before shown any interest in, or ability with a hand tool.

Cathy P had a lesson in how not to attach a personal appendage to the set with staples, while Alan Cremer revealed very discreetly, that he can use tools of all kinds which we didn’t think he could even name. In fact he can claim that he immobilised six tables today; Alan – you are incredible, and as always totally surprising.

Fred W once again worked much harder than anyone else without anyone knowing. The cable he has laid would go twice round the world, and he has made more connections than I have had cooked breakfasts. Oh, and he also repaired the generator when it failed. He didn’t even mention it and no more than 3 people knew.

Anyway – that’s enough about the people – dozens who turned up and did more than their share.

You now have London Bridge too. I bet the original took a little longer to make. And its big.

One big gripe from me however is about one of the crew. For those who did “Little Shop” you may remember the counter in Mushnik’s Florist.

This was converted from a very old and venerable piece of kit that has been in several Riverside shows, in various disguises. I moved this over to the castle last week as it was obvious that it would make an ideal place for the stage manager’s script, video monitor, pens, ashtray, bribes and presents from the cast , chocolates, soft drinks etc etc.

Imagine my horror when at 5pm tonight I found it had disappeared from where placed – – the SM’s pit.

Having once been a passable detective, I set out to do some sleuthing. I must have been better than I thought becasue it took under 3 minutes to get the tech riggers to point the finger at Alex Cooper – who cut the said desk up because he needed a bit of wood.

All those who want to see the most embarrassing pictures of Alex at the age of 13 should look out for said photos which may appear, pinned in unusual places, throughout the next few days.

It’s war now Alex – get a helmet and Kevlar.

Just to make another point, tonight Alex and his merry men will be focusing and plotting their lights untill sun up. While they are doing this, the night security guys can sleep undisturbed as long as there isn’t too much shouting (HOORAY! – PN) Once again the rest of us can sleep soundly in our little wooden beds.

FRIDAY NIGHT – D Day minus another day

Yet another blisteringly hot day set building – started at 0840 awaiting another delivery of timber – quite pleasing when the delivery driver said “Wow” ( I repeat, it’s a man thing indicating – well, “Wow ” really)

Lots of people turned up at someone’s request and did lots of things for the set. In the meantime we took delivery of a generator to provide electrickery to the lights, etc., etc.

At 6pm I retired hurt (sore bits caused by the heat) so what happened after that I really don’t know. Perhaps someone will tell us, or we will find out itomorrow after 1400 hour.


I am very pleased to have got this on before midnight too!!


Today’s update: (21.7.06)

D DAY minus less than last time I wrote.

Much more work done at the Castle today, sadly interupted for me by a funeral – sleep tight Robbie and family – we are all thinking of you and yours. I take a liberty here by saying that at this stage, or any other, Bill would have been glad to have been a part of what is developing into an outstanding show. I hope that by referring to our old and much missed friend in this way, we can put any perceived problems into perspective.

As always, Fred W was beavering away and the electickery installation(that’s not a spelling mistake Peter) is well up to schedule. Tomorrow all we have to do is get a 3 ton generator and a similar sized fuel tank down the lane and onto site at the same time as the W I Market is under way. It will not be a happy place to be, and I will try to be somewhere else.

Work will continue much as before and I hasten to add, while not detracting from the sentiments of other messages, that my back is not “up against the wall”

Shows often look a bit ragged at this stage – it is to our endless credit that, somehow it always ends up right on the night. What more could we ask.

Sweet dreams


Even more Set-building: (19.7.06)

D DAY minus 8

A rather warm day on site – at 3.30pm the temperature was 34.5C – thats about 98 degress in old money. The scaffolders who have worked like trojans throughout left just before this ( they start very early! ) leaving just us few poor fools to brave the heat.

Fred Willams has done wonders – there is cable running all over the place and he never seems to stop working – he must be exhausted when he gets home.

I started the stairs for London Bridge and have one side done. Like the rest of the set it is on the large side and I hope nobody suyffers from vertigo. For those who will walk on the steps, I had the courage to test them myself so fear not!

Later on a bunch of “Larger” Riversiders moved some of the old style steel deck from the farm to the castle so that the orchestra don’t have to paddle around in the mud that won’t be caused by the rain that won’t fall during the run.

The band would like to thank Ian G, Ray, Giles. Fred H, Etienne, Chris W and of course Peter, humper par excellance, for their efforts in this horrible job.

Also thanks to Will. who by attending in flip flops gave us all a laugh. Mind your toes next time son.

PS the MoT men said officially that his car is red and not pink. (Obviously colour-blind 🙂 PN)


Set-building again: (18.7.06)

D-Day minus 9.

Progress on the set as seen at Tuesday night’s rehearsal:



Set-building update 4: (16.7.06)

D-Day minus 11

I didn’t go to the set this morning as I had a family function to attend so in my absence, and as suspected, a great deal of progress was made by Alex with the revolve, Kevin with the pub, and Lauren and Shula with some very fancy painting

– the cast have now been there and seen it
– and climbed on it
– and acted on it

so now apart from a few important twiddly bits, you know what you’ve got.


Set-building update 3: (15.7.06)

D-Day minus 12

Another long hard day of screwing and humping – sorry everybody for making it sound X rated.

The acting platform, well that which is down – about 95%, has now all been fixed in place (six boxes of 3 inch screws later – so expect a bill for more soon, Phil)

We also have a pub which you will see tomorrow – it has some very pretty windows, but alas it is a pub with no beer.

Most of the set builders will be pleased to hear I won’t be down tomorrow morning so if someone wants to report on progress be my guest. I’ll be down most evenings in the week and if you want to drop in to gawp, offer advice, or even help, please do.


More photos to put captions to in “The Bells” forum.


Set-building update 2: (14.7.06)

D-Day minus 13

Much more scaffolding erected. Much cable installed, and some stolen to do it. Fred W and Mac involved themselves in trying to get each other wet while doing this – Fred won and Mac tested the waterproof capabilities of his posh boots. He tells me that the river is very smelly. I never got close enough to know.

Fred H has once again helped me by explaining how to screw two pieces of wood together properly. For this I will always be in his debt. I will start his instruction on how to fit a radiator tomorrow.

Sophie, (P.A. to the C.O.W.) and under my personal tutilage, HAVING ALREADY DONE THE MASTER CLASS WITH THE CORDLESS DRILL, is now learning to growl quietly in the approved C.O.W. fashion.

Debbie visited the castle this evening and was surprised by the stage dimensions – expect a new slant to dance rehearsals and bring your own parachute. When you come to the castle on Sunday, you will know it all – you’ll be impressed too.

Kelly said that the stage is capable of being danced upon without tripping or other major problems, which is good as Maisie measured her length on the ground coming throgh the gates (AAAH BLESS).

Chris White said ” WOW” which I understand to mean “WOW” – this is a comment which men understand without further explanation.

Anya said “it’s real cool – I like this”

I hope the above is of some interest to those of you who are part of the team (Cast/Crew). I apologies to any purist if I have made a smelling error, but then, hey, what do I know, I only build sets.


Set-building update 1: 13th July 2006

D-Day minus 14

The “Get In” started at 0930 on Thursday 13th July and scaffolding is being erected over several days. Some of the Oliver cast/crew have already been in for a look and despite a number of gasps. ooohs, aaaahs, and ouches (when “Big Gav” grazed his knee) there have thus far, been no hissy fits.

My thanks go to Fred, Fred H, Mac, Gavin, Mick C for the truck, and Sophie for making the tea.

The scaffolders are proving to be the most helpful guys I’ve ever raised a set with (thanks Steve and Lee) so all in all it’s been a solid start with much more to do – as usual.

Finally, I must remind you all that the set is now a building site, and not a safe environment – if you want to visit, please ask me first – I’ll tell you when to come.

Oh yes – I forgot to mention that I’ll probably need a bit of help in the next week or two, When you hear me scream you’ll know



Oliver Blog 3, July 2006

Ooh it’s really hotting up now, literally and metaphorically.

Everyone is really busy putting it all together. We are now running the whole show at rehearsals and it’s been great to see what everyone’s been up to for the last couple of months.

So far we have been really lucky with the weather, in many ways too lucky, it was 32 degrees last weekend and many of us spent a great deal of it in costume. Still it’s all good training for the shows!!

A number of the cast attended the scout fun day on common meadow to hand out leaflets and perform a few numbers from the show. These were well received and a number of tickets sold directly afterwards on the strength of the performances. A massive well done to all who turned up on a blistering day.


Photo by Carol White

The last push on publicity is starting this weekend and a number of photos were taken this weekend to go in local papers to help sell the remaining tickets.


We have now taken possession of the castle and building has begun so we are all very excited to see it on Sunday.

The set is being constructed and painted and the team are down at the woodshed on a Sunday morning, volunteers for painting always welcome, if you don’t know where it is then ask!


Oliver Blog 2, April 2006

Things are really underway now – all the dances have been set and now the really hard work of perfecting it starts. Debbie begins the painful process of trying to work out exactly who is still watching someone else while dancing, so that she can tell who still hasn’t learned it yet!



Fagin’s gang look more mischievous by the minute, and are all getting rather too comfortable with their pick pocketing skills!





 and the poor little waifs in “Food” do all look quite sad, although that may have more to do with what Gavin and Michael appear to be doing in their gruel!!!!!!





Julie is still smiling which is a good sign, although it may now just be a smokescreen to hide the impending sense of panic as she realises that by the end of this rehearsal schedule, we are but 6 short weeks from dress rehearsal!!!!!



 Just in case you don’t know who’s playing who (and you care) here are some piccies of the cast!

 A very studious Clive Stanyon is Fagin



 Fergus Gordon is Oliver & Matthew Friett is Dodger


 Kelly White is Nancy & Martyn Puddick is Bill Sykes


Cathie Parker is Widow Corney & Ray Currier is Bumble


Ian Slipper & Shula Fitzgerald  as Mr & Mrs Sowerberry


March 2006

Have you seen this woman????


Here she is, Julie Lovelock our esteemed director, take a good look at her as she won’t look this chipper for long! I fully intend to show pictures of Julie at every stage throughout the production to serve as a warning to anyone considering doing an outdoor show in the future.

Injury Toll

So far Clive Stanyon (Fagin) has been left unable to walk after a particularly gruelling skipping session…….Yes really!    Kelly White (Nancy) has two bruised knees, a squashed head, a greatly extended neck and probably a nervous tic after one evening of Martin Puddick “pretending” to hit her. Fergus Gordon (Oliver) has witnessed most of this and is really looking forward to Martyn “pretending” to drop him on the floor!!!

This is without mentioning the countless number who are still laying down in a darkened room recovering from Debbie’s (choreographer) Sunday afternoon workout. And still if anyone asks why we do this, we say “For fun!!”

Cockney Workshops

For anyone struggling with the cockney accent, three of the team have very generously offered coaching. All three were awarded the highest honour at the Dick Van Dyke academy of Accents and Dialect. Anyone interested should speak to Julie Lovelock (Wirral Branch), Gavin Davy (Newcastle Branch) & Fiona Gordon(Northern Ireland Branch)

Caption Competition


What is Richard doing?

Why is Gav so amused by it?

Is Vicki as terrified as she appears?

Why is Phil taking a step back?