Interview with Oliver and Dodger

Altona City Theatre is presenting “Oliver!” this July, and company President (and the shows Bill Sikes) Patt Ryan caught up with the young men sharing the roles of Oliver; Matthew Williamson and Julian Smith-Gard, and The Artful Dodger; Matthew Provan-Koch and James Madsen-Smith.

Patt- ‘Allo ‘allo lads. I’m just trying to get in the spirit of the show here. First up, can you tell me what the show is about for those who are unfamiliar with “Oliver!”?

Julian – It’s about a young, innocent and honest boy who confronts a corrupt world full of cruelty and hatred. Despite all that he goes through, he remains true to himself and his own character and never fails to see the good in people.

Pictured: Matthew Provan-Koch, Julian Smith-Gard, Matthew Williamson and James Madsen-Smith

Patt – Pretty intense depiction of the show there. What about the others? Any thoughts?

Matt W – Julian summed it up pretty well. It’s about an orphan who gets sold and then runs away and joins a group of thieves and bad characters. He gets caught trying to pick pocket a man who ends up taking care of me.

Matt PK – The people he meets aren’t all bad. He does meet the greatest, most handsome (at least when I’m performing) person on the streets of London… The Artful Dodger!

Patt – Of course Matt. You forgot to say humble as well. Speaking of your characters though, what do you enjoy most about your roles?

Matt PK – What I like about the Dodger is his sarcastic and confident nature; the way he struts around like he owns the place.

James – Definitely! I love the Artful Dodger’s confidence, charisma and sense of mischief.

Patt – What about Oliver? What’s it like playing the title role?

Julian – Oliver is really quite a strong, resilient character. Whatever life throws at him, he still remains polite, dignified and honest.

Patt – Have you done much on stage before Julian?

Julian – I have been acting for four years now and have performed in three shows at Altona, including Oliver. I will also be in High School Musical 2 which will be showing in October.

Patt – What about the rest of you?

Matt PK – I’ve been in Altona City Theatre’s ACTion for 2 and a half years, and prior to that I was in various plays at Newport Gardens Primary School.

James – I have acted in school productions in the past. This is my first production with ACT and my first show outside of school.

Matt W – I was Prince Charming at my Kinder end of year concert. I also played Mr Smallman (Rumplestiltskin) in a primary school production of A Geek Through Time that was written by our Musical Director, Janet Provan. I have also provided a voice over for a Williamstown Little Theatre show as the annoying, crying child who was in his bedroom during a dinner party his parents were hosting.

Patt – So the obvious question to you four is, how has it been sharing the role?

Matt W – It’s actually quite fun because we get along well together and enjoy rehearsing together and we get to watch the show as well as being in it.

James – I agree. I think there are challenges in sharing a role, but also positives. I guess it can be difficult to keep switching every run-through of a song or scene, but it is also good to have someone else to learn from and exchange ideas about the character.

Julian – It’s good and bad. Although it can be a challenge to avoid tripping over each other when we’re rehearsing the same scene, it’s great to have another Oliver to discuss the character with. I think we’re both better Olivers because we can combine each other’s ideas for the role.

Patt – Thanks for the chat boys. Looking forward to sharing the stage with you all very soon.

James I love working with the cast of “Oliver!”. It has been such a great journey and I couldn’t have had better people to work with.

Julian – Altona Theatre is a great venue but it is the people in the cast and crew who really make it special. I have loved working with those I know from previous shows, getting to know new people and making new friends.

Patt – I couldn’t have said it better myself. Chookas for the rest of rehearsals and enjoy the show season. I’ll see you at rehearsals.

“Oliver!” opens July 11 and runs for three weeks. All ticket information at

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