I have mentioned this in an earlier post, but when I was at Rushmoor School we went to see the original London production of Oliver! It must have been my first experience of a West End musical. I can't think how the teacher, Mr Crutchley, managed to get tickets for such a top-rated show. It can't have been opened very long when we went. We didn't pay for the tickets, so, even to this day, I have no idea who paid for them. I suppose around 25 of us went, on a Saturday. Quite a challenge for one man to take a group like us to London. I think I would have been 10-11, because the show opened in 1960, and, as I say, we can't have gone to see it barely months after it opened. I remember quite vividly the set, designed by Sean Kenny. A year or so later we went to see another musical 'Pickwick' which was on at the Saville Theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue. Since converted into a cinema. The show starred Harry Secombe.
(Incidentally, I have spelt 'Visiters' correctly. It is how Daisy Ashford spelt the word, as a child would, when the book was originally published.)
Further to what I mentioned about Oliver!, in around 1968, at about the time I was leaving school, I was attempting to get into theatre, stage management in particular. I had an interview at R.A.D.A. (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) with the intention of doing a Stage Management course there. I went with my mother and aunt to London for this interview. I remember we went by train. We went from Sandy railway station, because my aunt lived near Sandy, so I suppose it was the best station to go to London from. When I'd had the interview (I didn't get into R.A.D.A. if you're interested. Read my earlier posts on my stage management experience working in 'rep.') After the interview, my mum and aunt went off somewhere in London on their own. No doubt they went to do some shopping. I want to see the film of 'Oliver!' which had then recently just opened at the Odeon, Leicester Square. It's a good transfer of a stage musical to the big screen, the dances are good and the production design is good, but it does seem a bit tame when you think how they did the movie version of 'Les Miserables.' Far too bright and well lit and clean to be convincing as Victorian London. I have since learnt that the young lad who played Oliver, Mark Lester, had his voice dubbed by a girl, which must have been a bit of an insult.