Lancaster Dukes prepares for Oliver Twist

The ever-present milk float which controls sound and lighting for The Dukes' park shows.
The ever-present milk float which controls sound and lighting for The Dukes' park shows.

Preparations are underway for a new outdoor adaptation of Oliver Twist.

Lancaster theatre, The Dukes, is awaiting the arrival of the cast on June 8.

Oliver Twist.

Oliver Twist.

The play will transport the audience back to 1840 as soon as they enter the main gates of Williamson Park.

They will be directed to the first of six locations at the foot of the Ashton Memorial which will be transformed into a market place where even orphans like Oliver Twist can be bought and sold.

There the audience will have their first encounter with Fagin’s gang who’ll be played by a community company featuring members of The Dukes Young Company.

Their costumes will be based on the kind of clothes worn by poor Victorian children and have been designed by Alison Heffernan who was inspired by old photographs from that era.

Alison has designed costumes and sets for most of the recent Dukes plays in the park as well as many of the shows presented in the theatre.

An Associate Artist at The Dukes, Alison designs for other theatres across the North West too and has created costume designs for shows onboard the QE2 and QM2 cruise ships. She was also production designer for Channel 4’s Brookside for two years.

The Duke’s outdoor adaptations have attracted more than 500,000 people since they began in 1987.

Another member of the team is the milk float.

Over the past 28 years, four different milk floats have been used to help overcome some of the technical challenges posed by outdoor theatre which moves from one location to another in a hilly 

The milk float carries lighting and sound control panels and this year it will travel from the bottom of the Ashton Memorial into the woods before making its way to the Butterfly House, trundling down to the Gorge and the final scene by the lake.

Oliver Twist opens on July 3 and runs until August 15.

For tickets, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or

Book before May 31 and save £2 per ticket.