Meet the young actors picked and pocketed to be part of Leeds Playhouse’s Oliver! this festive season

27 Sep 2023


What a fine, fine life these young actors are enjoying after being chosen by Leeds Playhouse to play key roles in its spectacular festive production, Oliver!

They have been picked and pocketed to share the roles of Oliver and The Artful Dodger, along with a further thirty-two children in the young company who will be making themselves at home on the bustling streets of Victorian London as part of the Playhouse’s production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!, which runs from 24 November to 27 January.

All the young people were chosen through an open call-out with leading casting directors Keston & Keston, which saw over 1,500 young people audition for the roles.

The trio of actors who will play loveable orphan Oliver are Carter-J Murphy, 9 from Manchester, Nicholas Teixeira, 9 from Manchester, and Theo Wake, 10 from Edinburgh.

Carter-J Murphy says: “This is the best thing to ever happen to me. Ever since being five years old I have loved the musical Oliver! and I am so excited to be cast in such an amazing show. I am so grateful to everyone involved and can’t wait for that first curtain call. This has made my dream come true!”

Nicholas Teixeira says: “I am so proud and thrilled to be part of Oliver. I am excited to perform some of the best-known songs in musical theatre.”

Theo Wake says: “I am so excited to be playing Oliver. I’ve dreamed of being in an amazing production like this. It’s going to be a magical Christmas experience and I can’t wait to be on stage.”

The skilful, cunning and cheeky role of The Artful Dodger will be shared by Felix Holt, 11 from Sheffield, Ram Narayanan Pisharody, 12 from Hull, and Noah Walton, 13 from Stockton on Tees. Noah was last seen at the Playhouse in 2022 when he starred as Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The Musical.

Felix Holt says: “I am really excited to be playing the role of The Artful Dodger in Oliver! at Leeds Playhouse. It’s an honour to be playing such an iconic role; it feels like a dream come true. I’m looking forward to experimenting and being able to bring The Artful Dodger to life. It’s going to be really fun wearing the costume, especially the top hat.” 

Ram Narayanan Pisharody says: “I can’t believe I get to be The Artful Dodger in this incredible production of Oliver! It’s like a dream come true and I’m so excited to bring this iconic character to life on stage and share the magic with everyone.”

Noah Walton says: “I am very excited to be playing The Artful Dodger in Oliver! at Leeds Playhouse this winter; an iconic character that was top of my wish list. I’m also thrilled to be returning to this amazing theatre with a brilliant team after playing Charlie Bucket last Christmas. I’m excited to be swapping my search for a golden ticket to become a cunning pickpocket! It’s going to be so much fun.” 

The six have been working with Director James Brining to explore and develop their characters, discuss how to adapt their performance to playing in the round, and how they will tackle these iconic roles and make them their own. They have been running scenes, familiarising themselves with the songs and mastering their first steps of choreography created by Choreographer Lucy Hind with Associate Director – Young Company Joanna Goodwin and Associate Director/Voice Coach Eleanor Manners.

Director James Brining said: “We’re delighted to welcome these excellent young actors to play the iconic roles of Oliver and The Artful Dodger. We met hundreds of youngsters from across the north who gave fantastic and inspiring auditions. The excitement and enthusiasm shown by our final six as we start working together is infectious and I know they’re going to do a brilliant job of entertaining and enchanting audiences over the Christmas period. When they’re joined by the 32 other children, the 20 adult actors and our wonderful band, we’re going to have an absolutely fantastic and talented company to tell this amazing, well-loved tale.”

Completing the young company are: Aness Ahmed; Beatrice Armitage; Cyrus Campbell; Ella Jade Chadwick; Zane Chaba; Ariana Dar; Rose Dawson; Rebecca English; Aaron Fu; Ana Sofia Gutierrez Robson; Fearne Lily I’Anson; Kalil Judge; Shayne M Maphosa; Leo Maurice; Oliver Maurice; Amelia Minto; Jenson Lee McMaster; Jett Moises; Karis Musongole; Kayleen Nguema; Chizaram Ochuba-Okafor; Maxwell Paton; Robyn Pennington; Alexa Raja; Reggie Rollins; Jessica Russell; Hugh Jack Ryan; Porscha Mai Staniford; Tommy Thompson; Maddison Thew; Raine Williamson and Buster Wolfenden.

Lionel Bart’s award-winning musical, adapted from Charles Dickens’ timeless novel, features some of the most memorable characters and well-loved songs seen on stage, including ‘Food, Glorious Food’, ‘Oom Pah-Pah’, ‘I’d Do Anything’ and the angelic sounds of ‘Where is Love?’. 

Oliver! is a classic rags to riches story. Born into a life of poverty and misfortune, orphaned Oliver is a small boy with a big heart. He sets out on a perilous journey from a desolate workhouse to the gloriously colourful streets of Victorian London in search of love and a place to call home. There he’s befriended by the charming Artful Dodger and kindly Nancy before being drawn into Fagin’s gang of young pickpockets where he comes under the terrifying gaze of dastardly Bill Sykes.

Families are at the heart of the theatre experience at Leeds Playhouse this festive season where, alongside Oliver!, it is also staging an exciting new musical version of Roald Dahl’s picture book The Enormous Crocodile, about a huge hungry crocodile searching for a delicious child to have for tea. This fun family show will bring global contemporary music, world-class puppetry and enormous amounts of fun to the Courtyard theatre at the Playhouse from 2 December–6 January. As well as enjoying the theatrical delights on offer, families can make use of the theatre’s child-friendly facilities, including its free creative play area, baby changing facilities and family toilets, highchairs and special catering options.

Meet the Olivers and The Artful Dodgers

Meet all our young company as part of Oliver!


    Arts Council
  • Leeds City Council
  • LTB Foundation
  • Principal Partner

    Caddick Group
  • Principal Access Partner

    Irwin Mitchell