PICKPOCKETS, gruel and the Artful Dodger took centre stage at a school’s glittering annual show yesterday.

Budding thespians at Swindon Academy took to the stage in the musical, Oliver! which tells the tale of a young runaway orphan who meets a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by elderly Fagin.

And the audience were sure to ask ‘Please sir, can I have some more?’ after watching the polished performance, starring year nine student Sam Holloway as the loveable pickpocket Oliver Twist.

A total of 120students in years 4 to 13 have rehearsed and sung their hearts out since September to make the show a roaring success.

The show, following on from the success of last year’s school spectacular, We Will Rock You featured slick performances of classic ditties Food, Glorious Food and Consider Yourself.

Leigh Matthews, the curriculum manager for performing arts said she couldn’t be prouder of the students and staff’s efforts.

“We wanted to do something completely different from last year which was a hi-tech spectacular,” she said.

“We wanted to involve all the children and the community too. I feel immensely proud of all of them for what they have achieved.

“What’s great is that everyone has a part to play in the production. We have children on front of house, playing music, acting, being ushers and there’s a really lovely atmosphere and a buzz in the school.”

The event has proved a family affair for Leigh, whose brother Stewart is the drama teacher.

Staff were also seen on stage. Science teacher Mark McNally played Fagin, while Leigh’s partner, caretaker Bob Pountney played trumpet in the band.

The production has seen the school transformed into a theatre, complete with ushers, a band and a green room.

Oliver! was performed last night and another performance is scheduled for tonight.