During ‘What the Dickens’ week, pupils were thrilled to meet Mark Lester, who played Oliverin the original 1968 film. The cast of this year’s Christmas performance, Oliver! The Musical, spent an inspirational afternoon with Mr Lester who shared his experiences of playing Oliver as well as some top acting tips. The children were then given the opportunity to ask him questions such as: How does acting on stage differ to acting for a film? Which performance are you most proud of and why?

Dean Close pupil Cameron Stephens, who plays Oliver in the School production said, “Meeting Mark was thrilling. He signed my cap and gave me some useful ideas about the interpretation of my character. I am really looking forward to performing next week, along with the rest of the cast who are brilliant.”

Oliver! The Musical is being performed in the new Dean Close Prep Centenary Hall using a professional West End set. The four performances are already sold out, attracting 1300 friends and family and three local schools.

Inspired by this year’s adaption of Charles
Dickens’ novel, Oliver Twist, the School
has also spent an entire week going
Dickens mad, with a ‘What the Dickens’
week.A whole week has been dedicated
toone of Britain’s most celebrated
authors.Through a wide range of Dickensian activitiespupilshave been learning about
some of the stories he wrote and the characters he created.

Every morning pupils were greeted by a different Charles Dickens’ character, such as Mr
Bumble and Scrooge. Parents, pupils and staff had great fun, guessing who the
characters were.

Located at the school entrance behind an authentic bay window the School has created its
very own ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ which has been open for business all week. Pupils have
enjoyed searching through the dusty objects on an old Welsh dresser to uncover a variety
of Victoriana and guessingtheir purpose. Just a few of the items on display, on loan from the Wilson Museum, were a glove stretcher, a puzzle jug and Victorian curling tongs. Children could also spend time in the library sharing authentic Victorian toys – none of which needed charging!

Throughout the week the School chose to support one of Britain’s oldest Victorian children’s charities – Barnardo’s, by collecting coppers and small change. Barnardo’s was founded in 1866 to care for vulnerable children and young people.

On Thursday, lunchtime was transformed into a Victorian feast as pupils dined on Victorian favourites such as game pie, delicious plum duff and baked apple dumplings.

The School’s archive department created a fabulous display of photographs and artefacts from the School’s first days.Pupils and staff found it very interesting learning what the school might have been like 130 years ago, when the school first opened in 1886.

Head of English, Mr Bob Shelley said, “This has been a fantastic experience for the children, all the activities have really brought Charles Dickens stories and characters to life. So much so, some of our pupils have decided to read ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ for themselves and find out what happened.”