Chorister lands lead role in hit musical Oliver

Taylor Torkington will be playing Oliver. Picture: Scott Louden
Taylor Torkington will be playing Oliver. Picture: Scott Louden
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AN 11-year-old chorister can consider himself “well in” after landing his first leading role in a summer production of hit musical Oliver.

Taylor Torkington, a member of the choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, will play the famous orphan in a four-performance run at the Edinburgh Playhouse in July.

The gifted St Mary’s Music School pupil was chosen for the role after he wowed talent scouts at open auditions in March.

He said he could not wait to bring the street urchin to life by belting out popular classics such as Consider Yourself and Food Glorious Food.

The youngster from Colinton said: “I love to perform and this is like a dream come true. It means a lot to me. I want to work in theatre when I’m older so it’s a great opportunity for me. I’m incredibly proud to be in this production and cast as Oliver. My training as a chorister was really helpful when it came to the auditions.”

He added: “I am looking forward to the experience of working in a public performance with a professional director in the UK’s biggest theatre.

“I was surprised and excited and very happy when I got the role. I had just sung in Tosca, so I was really pleased to have another opportunity to perform in the Playhouse because it was so great the first time.”

Rehearsals start on Monday and will involve a gruelling, full-time schedule of long days over the next three weeks.

Lionel Bart’s multi-award-winning musical is being brought to the Playhouse by Stage Experience, a performing arts course for young people aged between ten and 21, with special permission from producer Cameron Mackintosh.

Taylor has been a chorister at St Mary’s Music School since 2013. As well as singing during daily services at St Mary’s Cathedral, he took part in the choir tour to Germany last year.

He has also sung in many concerts and broadcasts, including with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and contributed to a recent recording of Stravinsky with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Taylor, a drama student with The Acting Scene, previously appeared at the Edinburgh Playhouse in Carmen and also as the shepherd boy in Ellen Kent’s production of Puccini’s Tosca.

Dr Kenneth Taylor, headteacher at St Mary’s Music School, described Taylor as a “talented young chorister who loves to sing”.

He added: “We are delighted for him that he has won the lead role in Oliver. His choral and music training will stand him in excellent stead to sing the well-known songs from the famous and much-loved musical.”

St Mary’s Music School is the only place in Scotland that offers a chorister education.

Choristers sing in the Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral and receive an all-round education at the school alongside the instrumentalist pupils. It offers a unique opportunity to children from P4 to S2 who enjoy singing, have a clear voice and a good sense of pitch and rhythm. Oliver will be staged at the Playhouse Theatre on Thursday, July 21, Friday, July 22, and Saturday, July 23, with matinee and evening performances.