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Fort Macleod actor has role in Carriage House’s Oliver

Eleven-year-old Zoe Nelson has had her eye on a role in the musical Oliver for a few years.
So the Grade 6 student at F.P. Walshe school didn’t hesitate to audition when she learned Carriage House Theatre in Cardston was staging Oliver this month.
“I had actually learned some of the songs from the play Oliver with my voice teacher, Laura Glover, when the Empress was hoping to get the rights to this play a few years ago,” Zoe explained. “They ended up not being able to do Oliver at that time, but did get Annie instead and I was fortunate enough to play the role of Molly.”
“Ever since then, I had hoped to one day perform in Oliver and was excited to see that the Carriage House Theatre was auditioning for it in September. I’ve always enjoyed going to plays at the Carriage House and had hoped to one day perform on that stage.”
Zoe had the support of her parents Ashley and Brian Nelson, even though it meant three trips each week to Cardston for rehearsal.
“We’ve gone to see several of their (Carriage House) plays and we’ve always loved it,” Ashley Nelson said. “They’re energetic and fun.”
Oliver completedits run at the Carriage House Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 17.
Oliver was directed by former Fort Macleod resident Josh Creason, with musical direction by Kyla Perry and choreography by Elise Sherwood and Tate Sommerfeldt.
The cast included Shad Payne in the lead role of Oliver, Nathan Smith as Fagin, Molly Lewis Russell as The Artful Dodger, Bobbi Barfuss as Nancy and Tate Sommerfeldt as Bill Sykes.
Zoe was cast as a pickpocket and member of Fagin’s gang, a role she has embraced.
“I really like the role of pickpocket because we get to have fun with getting into character,” Zoe explained. “And I love the choreo we are doing for the songs we sing. The song Be Back Soon is my favourite. All of the songs are just so fun and energetic.”
Zoe is no stranger to live theatre or musicals, having performed in both Wizard of Oz and Annie with the Empress Theatre.
She found a similar positive experience with Carriage House Theatre.
“All the cast members are so friendly and we have had a good time playing games together while we are waiting for our turns during rehearsals,” Zoe noted. “I had met a few of them when going to church at my grandparents’ in Mountain View, so it was nice to get to know them better and make new friends who share my interests of singing, dancing and acting.”
There are more than 50 adults and children in the cast of Oliver. About 150 people auditioned for roles in Oliver.
In addition to being fun and enjoyable, being part of Carriage House has been a learning experience for Zoe.
“I have learned many acting techniques and ways to be more interactive,” Zoe explained. “I’ve also learned that I prefer to participate in plays that are closer to home. It’s been a busy couple of months with lots of driving to Cardston, which has been pretty tiring for me and my parents.”
“I’ve realized how fortunate I’ve been to have had opportunities to rehearse and perform here in town at our Empress Theatre and hope to have more chances to be involved locally.”

Zoe Nelson has the role of a pickpocket in Carriage House Theatre’s production of the musical ‘Oliver.’