Hillsborough lad Conor secures his spot in the title role of Oliver!

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An eleven-year-old Hillsborough boy has been chosen to play the title role in Theatre at the Mill’s latest summer youth musical, Oliver!

Conor Cox, who has just finished Downshire Primary School, played the Artful Dodger in his school play in March but auditioned for the part of Oliver! in the Newtownabbey theatre’s new production.

Conor is currently taking stage and singing lessons from leading vocal coach, musical theatre performer and director, Ashley Fulton and says he would love to be an actor when he leaves school.

He added: “I auditioned for Oliver! with the hope of getting the role of Oliver. I hope to gain more experience and look forward to learning from the team from Guildford School of Acting.”

Last February Conor was in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Grand Opera House and was also in the Theatre at the Mill Christmas production, Tinseltown. He is member of the youth run drama group, Ravara Productions in Bangor.

Theatre at the Mill is celebrating its fifth anniversary in style with a lavish youth production of Lionel Bart’s classic musical Oliver!

The much loved Dickens-based musical with memorable songs such as ‘I’d Do Anything’, ‘Consider Yourself’, ‘Food Glorious Food’ and ‘Reviewing the Situation’ will run from Friday, July 24 to Saturday, August 1.

Since opening in 2010 the beautiful theatre at Mossley Mill has been famous for its highly acclaimed youth productions including Les Miserables, Oklahoma and The Producers.

Oliver! is the theatre’s first fully staged youth musical since 2012 and theatre manager and producer Bernard Clarkson is rightly excited by the prospect of a summer production full of hit tunes and memorable characters.

He said: “We are delighted to have top director Sean McNamara directing a line-up that includes some of Northern Ireland’s most talented young performers, many of whom are destined for a career on the stage.

They will be backed by a band made up of professional musicians and some of Northern Ireland’s most talented young musicians.

“It is a great opportunity for these young people to experience the thrill of live performance. They always bring a great energy and enthusiasm with them, which creates a real buzz in the theatre.”

The production will boast a fantastic set and a crack live band under the baton of celebrated Musical Director Mark Dougherty. Consistent with the theatre’s philosophy of promoting and encouraging young talent, the professional musicians will be joined by some of Northern Ireland’s most talented young players.

Over the past five years, Theatre at the Mill has established an enviable reputation for staging workshops and courses directed at young people with an aim to offer opportunities for them to engage and develop skills in drama, musical theatre, Dance, and technical stagecraft.

The Theatre now has its own Home Spun Youth Theatre offering weekly drama classes over three 10 week semesters each year.

Bernard Clarkson, explained: “Our relationship with young people, and the unique opportunity our venues provide in allowing young people access to state-of-the-art facilities and to work alongside some of the most creative and talented people is central to our success in Antrim and Newtownabbey.

“The team are always staggered by the talent of our young people and the way in which they throw themselves into their work, with a dedication and passion, producing some of the most exciting performances and to an exceptionally high standard.

“Young people are central to our success and I do hope that residents and visitors to the Borough will join us at one of these eight very special performances and in celebrating our fifth Anniversary year at the Theatre at the Mill.”The show begins on July 24 and runs until August 1, with the curtain going up at 7pm, with a matinee at 2.30pm on August 1. Tickets, priced £15, £13, £11 are on sale online at www.theatreatthemill.com or via the box office on 028 90340202.