Dereham youth theatre group gets some professional help

Young actors from Dereham are benefiting from some professional direction as they prepare for their latest production – thanks to a �2,500 grant.

Dereham Operatic Society's Youth Theatre Company (DosytCo) is busy rehearsing for performances of Oliver! next month. And a grant from the BBC Performing Arts Fund has enabled the company to bring in professional Norfolk-based director Anna Lawrence.

She is using her experience in theatres both here and in Europe to bring out the best in the youngsters.

The director, who also works with the Norwich Theatre Royal's Norfolk school's opera project, has been involved with the show since auditions in December.

Joe Phelps from DosytCo, who will play Fagin, said: 'We are absolutely delighted to have been successful. It is an opportunity to work with a professional director and develop the existing talents of the group – an opportunity which would not normally present itself to an amateur group without incurring considerable and unavailable funds.'

Mr Phelps said the director made an 'incredible difference' to the group.

He added: 'The younger performers are always enthused and excited at rehearsals, which is fantastic.'

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The grant was part of a funding pot from the BBC Performing Arts Fund which aims to help groups realise more ambitious projects or produce a musical theatre show for the very first time.

DosytCo will also use some of the money towards the cost of an orchestra, and to help publicise the show.

The Oliver! cast is made up of 46 Norfolk young people aged eight to 20 years old, and rehearses in the Dereham Operatic Society's studio space next to the Memorial Hall.

The group relies on parents and friends to help run the shows, from working the front of house or back stage to chaperoning the youngsters, while a committee of volunteers manages the day-to-day running of the group.

Oliver! will be performed at Northgate High School, Dereham, from April 20 to 23. Tickets cost �6.50 to �9 and will be available from Hallmark, Nelson Place, or by calling 01362 694222, from March 10.

For more information about the DosytCo, visit

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