Oliver! stars restore Victorian values to venue

The Cast of Oliver take timeout ' Artful Dodgers Travis Caddy & Jack Armstrong with Olivers's Samual Baily & Jack Silbeck
The Cast of Oliver take timeout ' Artful Dodgers Travis Caddy & Jack Armstrong with Olivers's Samual Baily & Jack Silbeck
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A bit like Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger, the story of two Sheffield lads in Oliver! at the Crucible is a contrast between innocence and experience.

Jack Skilbeck Dunn, who shares the title role in the theatre’s Christmas musical, had never been to an audition before.

Travis Caddy, who alternates as the Dodger, has already been on tour with The Full Monty.

Jack, aged 11, has just left Walkley Primary and is off to King Edward VII School in the autumn. He said: “I really liked singing because I’ve watched Oliver! quite a lot of times at the theatre, and I’ve watched the film. I really like the character.

“It’s a bit exciting and I’m a bit nervous. I’ve never been with such a big crowd.”

It’s been a whole new experience for all the family – dad Mark and mum Julie, who are both teachers, and big brother Joe.

Julie said: “It’s going to be exciting and nerve-wracking. I wonder how he’s going to cope with the nerves of that first night and a solo performance. But what an opportunity to learn the craft from professionals.”

Travis, aged 14, who lives in Ranmoor and goes to Birkdale School, was one of four boys who played Nathan in The Full Monty. He was the son of Gaz, the redundant Sheffield steelworker who forms an unlikely group of male strippers.

Travis said: “It was amazing, the best experience of my life.”

Travis, who already has an agent, has his sights firmly set on a career as an actor. He said: “Just when I get out on stage I am a completely different character to real life, where I am a lot more hesitant. I love appearing on stage, the crowd.”

“A lot of times in The Full Monty I got a standing ovation. I also had my own curtain call.”

He appeared in Sheffield, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Southend.

Travis had a tutor to help him keep up with his schoolwork.

His mum, Judith, said that the team at Sheffield Theatres were excellent. The boys also had a chaperone with them.

She said: “I am so proud and very excited for Travis. It’s what he wants to do. He has been doing drama for years. He always makes me laugh at home and he’s a very sociable boy.”

Judith and her husband Chris, a plastic surgeon, were also new to the world of theatre.

Travis’s sister Thalia is appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe with the University of Sheffield drama society in Steadfast Tin Soldier and Beauty and the Beast.

Oliver! takes to the stage from November 29 to January 25. Box office: 0114 249 6000 or at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk.