Musical has plenty of big numbers
CAMERON Mackintosh's new production of Oliver!, which is set to visit Bristol next month, is one of the largest shows on tour in the UK.
When the latest version Lionel Bart's classic arrives at the Hippodrome on January 22, it will bring with it a cast of 54, orchestra of 16 and a technical team of 53 who bring the show to life eight times a week.
It takes 11 45ft-long trailers to move the production from one venue to the next.
Twenty-four members of the cast are children, including four Olivers, four Dodgers, and three touring teams of ten children – who are all looked after by seven full-time chaperones.
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The backstage teams include a company manager, five stage managers, six stage crew, two flymen, three follow-spot light operators, one touring carpenter, an automation operator, three sound operators, three electricians, two technical swings, nine dressers, four wardrobe staff and even five people to look after the wigs.
The creative team also includes an associate director, a children's director, a children's musical director, and of course, a dog playing Bullseye and his accompanying dog handler.
Sarah Milne, spokeswoman for the Hippodrome, said: "It takes around 12 hours to take the show out of a venue and three days to put it into the next venue.
"There are 21 motors that are used just to suspend the set and equipment in addition to the theatres flying bars."
The "flown bridge" – from which the sets are suspended – in itself weighs nearly a ton and will move 1.8km during the tour in performance. There are 16 flying elements in the set.
Wardrobe staff will find themselves doing 64 loads of washing each week.
The team travels with washing machines, four tumble driers, three ironing boards and three steam generator irons. The majority of the costumes are kept onstage in a large area known as the "Quick Change Village".
"There are six three-metre rails of spare costumes for the children. There are 300 pairs of children's shoes on tour to adapt to their growing feet," Sarah said.
Each "swing" – cover cast – has 19 sets of costumes, shoes and hats, and every child's costume is checked by a member of wardrobe before they go onstage – to check that they still fit and look correct.
Fagin's make up alone takes around 45 minutes to do, using three different glues to secure his bald cap and facial hair. He also has a brand new bald cap every day.
Oliver! runs at the Hippodrome from January 22 to February 24. For details, see www.oliverthemusical.com