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Theatre Offers More This Summer

Wednesday, 1st July 2015

There will be plenty of twists and turns to The Dukes outdoor walkabout production this summer.

For the awardwinning Lancaster theatre will present a new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ popular story – Oliver Twist – from July 3-August 15.

Dickens’ wonderful characters – Fagin, the Artful Dodger, Nancy, Bill Sikes and the hideous Mr Bumble – will lead the audience on a journey through the magical open-air setting of Williamson Park transformed into Dickensian England with a Northern twist.

Along the way, they will see orphan Oliver thrown out of the workhouse and dragged into the park to be sold to the highest bidder but hidden deep in the woods, Fagin and his gang of tricksters and scoundrels lie in wait, living a life of adventure.

This rare theatrical experience follows in The Dukes tradition of providing memorable and critically acclaimed productions for all the family which have gained a national reputation as the UK’s biggest outdoor walkabout theatre season.

2014 saw The Dukes reach the milestone of attracting 500,000 people to the park shows since they began in 1987.

This year’s production of Oliver Twist has been adapted by established theatre, television and radio writer Debbie Oates who has written for Coronation Street since 2002 and whose other credits include The Mill and Primeval.

The Dukes Artistic Director, Joe Sumsion said: “There’s some stories which simply offer a delicious prospect for an outdoor walkabout production and Oliver Twist is one of them.

The thought of relocating Dickens’ story to a Northern park is intriguing. I can’t wait to see the Artful Dodger, Nancy and Fagin at large in the woods whilst high above them Oliver and Mr Brownlow look out from the Ashton Memorial over Morecambe Bay.

I doubt there will ever have been a version of Oliver Twist quite like this one and there’s a palpable air of excitement and anticipation about this show.”

To book tickets for Oliver Twist which is recommended for anyone aged 5 plus, ring The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit
For more information, please contact Louise Bryning on 01524 598509 or email
Editor’s Notes
Press Night: Tuesday  July 7, 7.15pm
The writer, director and cast are available for interview on request.
Manchester-based Debbie Oates is an Associate Artist at The Dukes following her successful adaptation of two Christmas shows for the theatre: Treasure Island in 2012 and A Christmas Carol in 2013. She has been a scriptwriter on Coronation Street for 13 years.
Oliver Twist will be the sixth park show Joe Sumsion has directed for The Dukes. His previous outdoor productions are Hansel & Gretel And More Tales From The Forest, Robin Hood, Merlin And The Legend Of King Arthur, Jason & The Argonauts and Beauty & The Beast.
Jerome Thompson who will play Oliver Twist is a newcomer to The Dukes as is Victoria Brazier(Nancy).
Josie Cerise, who was brought up near Chorley, will play a female Artful Dodger. She returns to The Dukes just months after appearing as one of the Ugly Sisters in the Christmas production of Cinderella. Josie’s career has seen her perform in the West End, at Sydney Opera House and in the popular children’s television programmes Grandpa in my Pocket on Cbeebies and Ha Ha Hairies on Cartoonito.
Russell Richardson(Fagin), is originally from Rochdale and was last seen at The Dukes in the Bolton Octagon and Oldham Coliseum co-production of Hindle Wakes.
Leigh Symonds(Bill Sikes) played Dr Watson in Oldham Coliseum’s version of The Hound of The Baskervilles which toured to The Dukes in 2012.
Shelley Atkinson(Mrs Bedwin and Mrs Sowerberry) appeared in The Dukes 25th anniversary production of Merlin and The Legend of King Arthur in 2011 and returned last year to play a frog and good fairy in Hansel & Gretel. She also played Mrs Cratchitt in The Dukes 2013 production of A Christmas Carol and has appeared in other Dukes festive shows.
Andy Ashford(Charley Bates) was also in the cast of Merlin and The Legend of King Arthur in 2011 and appeared in Of Mice And Men at The Dukes in 2009.
The cast will perform alongside a community company of young people from The Dukes who will play Fagin’s gang.
Designer: Alison Heffernan
Music by: Kieran Buckeridge
Lighting by: Brent Lees
Oliver Twist is sponsored by Joseph A Jones solicitors of Lancaster.
Tickets: £18.50-£23 adults/£14.50-£19 concessions/£11-£13 children. A £1 per ticket transaction fee applies when booking online.
Box Office: 01524 598500 or visit
The Dukes is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. The Dukes receives funding from Arts Council England, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster City Council, Lancaster University and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
The Dukes is the winner of the Lancashire Tourism Cultural Venue/Organisation Award 2013.

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