LIVE performances will be back soon at a County Durham school as pupils make final preparations for the musical Oliver! after a two-year delay.

The popular Lionel Bart musical based on the Dickens novel Oliver Twist will be staged at Barnard Castle School from February 7 to 10, the first performance since the COVID lockdown saw Made in Dagenham close after a single show.

Director Scott Edwards, who is Director of Drama at Barnard Castle School, chose Oliver! for its variety of parts allowing him to open the 38-strong cast production to all year groups from Year 7 to Upper Sixth.

The lead of Oliver went to Year 8 student Freddie Wootton, 13, of Hamsterley, who has been appearing in TV ads since he was 13-months-old and performed in a review called Orthodox.

Read more: Exciting events planned for Durham's City of Culture 2025 bid

He said: “I was delighted to get the lead and have been really enjoying rehearsals. There has been a lot of uncertainty because of the pandemic but you just learn to live with it.”

Rehearsals began back in September, but the original shows were postponed because of COVID restrictions.

Mr Edwards said: “It has been challenging because of the pandemic and fitting around schooling but the students have been tremendous, showing true resilience and, thanks to a lot of commitment, are really getting there with their performances, which will make for a great show.”

Tickets are available through Eventbrite at


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054