During ‘What the Dickens’ week pupils were thrilled when the original Oliver, Mark Lester,visited the Prep School. Star of the 1968 film, Oliver,came into School totalk to the cast of this year’s Christmas performance, Oliver! The Musical.

Pupils spent an inspirational afternoon with Mr Lester who shared his experiences of playing Oliver as well as some top acting tips, then children were 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 adaptation of CharlesDickens’ novel, Oliver Twist, the School has
spent an entire week going Dickens mad, witha ‘What the Dickens’ week. Dedicating a
whole week to one of Britain’s most celebratedauthors, pupils, through a wide range of
Dickensian activities, have been learning aboutsome of the stories he wrote and the
characters he created.

Every morning pupils were greeted by a different Charles Dickens’ character, such as MrBumble and Scrooge. Parents, pupils and staff have had great fun, guessing who thecharacters 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 guessing its 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 for pupils and staff to learn what 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.”