Oliver! the Musical

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 13 December 2008, Opened 14 January 2009, Closed 8 January 2011 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane Theatre in London

A major revival of the classic Lionel Bart musical Oliver! in London. Based on the book by Charles Dickens, Lionel Bart's hugely popular musical includes the well known songs Food Glorious Food; Consider Yourself; You've Got to Pick-a-Pocket or Two; I'd Do Anything; Oom Pah Pah; As Long As He Needs Me; and many more.

The cast for Oliver! in London features Omid Djalili as 'Fagin' from 20 July 2009 to 12 December 2009. Griff Rhys Jones will perform the role of 'Fagin' from 14 December 2009 until June 2010. Sickness and holiday permitting, Jodie Prenger is scheduled to perform as 'Nancy' on Monday and Tuesday evenings, Wednesday matinees, Thursday and Friday evenings and both performances on Saturday. Still not perform on 24 December 2009, but will perform both performances on 23 December 2009. Jodie Prenger is currently contracted to appear until March 2010. Leading Australian actress Tamsin Carroll (who played the role of 'Nancy' in the 2002 Australian production of Oliver!) will play the role of 'Nancy' on Wednesday evenings. All casting is subject to change.

This production of Oliver the Musical in London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane promises to be even more spectacular than ever before as Cameron Mackintosh explains: "This time around, still based on Sam Mendes' original, the production is being directed by one of Britain's most exciting new directors, recent Olivier award-winner Rupert Goold. He, along with co-director and choreographer Matthew Bourne and designer Anthony Ward will be making full spectacular use of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane's majestic stage, which is almost twice the size of the Palladium. For this production I will be having a cast and orchestra of over 100."

"It's now near as dammit 50 years since Peter Coe's original production, and the show still works a treat. Lionel Bart's songs are pretty much unsinkable, and Cameron Mackintosh's giant cast - more than 80, not including the dog and its stunt double - set about them with gusto. This is a slickly reverential, rather than a mould-breaking, production... Goold's production is pacey and mobile without being fussy... You'll love it." The Sunday Times

"There is a strong sense that this production is something of an event not least because of the television talent show I'd Do Anything, which involved the viewers selecting the people to perform the parts of Nancy and Oliver... From the opening rendition of Food, Glorious Food - played out on a towering set of Mr Bumble's workhouse with more than 50 children and adults filling the stage - it is clear no expense has been spared, but, for all that, it is a production of pale pastel shades rather than the rich hues and passion of the film version... The two-and-a-half hours that Goold's revival runs for passes very slowly indeed. Part of the problem is that it has simply been choreographed to death." The Sunday Telegraph

"Rupert Goold's revival of Sam Mendes's lavish and exuberant 1994 production of Lionel Bart's Oliver! strikes me as being a bit Carry On Dickens. If there's an opportunity for the Victorian equivalent of a twanged bra strap, Goold finds it. Breasts feature prominently: Widow Corney's 'kittens' leave nothing to her chubby, would-be husband's imagination, and Nancy's practically hit her chin. When the mood darkens later down in the pub, with Nancy and her girls cheerfully flirting with customers, there's little doubt that 'Oom-pah-pah' is a euphemism for the oldest trade in the world and, as the disturbingly twisted reprise of It's A Fine Life suggests, it's anything but fun. Anthony Ward's spectacular designs, with platforms rising up to take us down to Fagin's den, and dark alleys opening up to glorious vistas of St Paul's, are picture-postcard perfect until Paule Constable's superb lighting conjures a smokiness and moodiness Whistler would have wanted to paint. Rowan Atkinson puts his own inimitable stamp on the part of Fagin, which is all the richer for the flashes of Mr Bean in his rubbery physicality, and of Blackadder in the eyerolling vanity... A marble-white-faced Burn Gorman plays Bill Sikes as a scary psychopath, but forgets that it's his gangster sex appeal that has Nancy in his thrall, not his cudgel. So it's not so surprising that there's nothing heartfelt about Jodie Prenger's raunchy, raven-haired, hard-as-nails Nancy. She fails to bring even a tiny tear to the eye with As Long As He Needs Me because he doesn't need her and she doesn't desire him. But then she doesn't show the remotest tenderness for the boys in Fagin's den - and Ross McCormack's sprightly Dodger and Harry Stott's endearing Oliver certainly deserve it. Lots to sing about, but I could have asked for more." The Mail on Sunday

The original cast for this revival production featured Rowan Atkinson as 'Fagin' (up to 18 July 2009) and Jodie Prenger as 'Nancy'. Rowan Atkinson said: "In the 1980's I enjoyed doing a lot of West End theatre and since then have been distracted very much by Mr Bean and film making. I had been thinking for some time about returning to the stage and the idea of the role of 'Fagin', which has long intrigued me, (some time ago I even played the role in a school production), seemed like too good an opportunity to miss." The producer, Cameron Mackintosh said: "I'm thrilled that Rowan Atkinson has finally reviewed the situation and succumbed to his long-held ambition to play 'Fagin'. We have been discussing the possibility on and off for many years and to me this idea has always promised the perfect marriage of a brilliant mercurial role with a brilliant mercurial comic actor."

Unfortuantely, while Rowan Atkinson was on holiday at the end of March 2009 he sustained an indirect inguinal hernia. His doctors advised immediate surgery to avoid exacerbating the condition. They are confident that he will be well enough to return to the role of 'Fagin' in Oliver! on Monday 27 April 2009 following a three week recovery period. Rowan has been nursing the problem for a few weeks but it flared up badly whilst on a break with his family. He cut short his family holiday to fly back to have surgery immediately to speed up the recovery process. The condition, whilst neither serious nor dangerous, is extremely painful and prevents normal movement, making performing impossible. Cameron Mackintosh said: "Our sympathy goes out to Rowan and all our best wishes for a speedy recovery and return to the production. I regret the disappointment this will cause to many but I am delighted that Russ Abbot has so ably stepped into the breach. He is a consummate all-round performer and had a personal triumph in this role when I last produced the show in London and on tour." Russ Abbot is scheduled to play the role of 'Fagin' from 13 to 25 April 2009. Russ Abbot played the role of 'Fagin' to considerable acclaim at the London Palladium in 1997 and again triumphantly on tour around the UK and in Toronto the following year. His other stage musical credits include the title role in the UK tour of Dr Dolittle, 'Alfred P Doolittle' in the multi award-winning revival of Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 'Grandpa Potts' in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium and 'Roger De Bris' in the UK tour of The Producers.

The musical Oliver! in London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane Theatre previewed from 13 December 2008, opened on 14 January 2009 and closed on 9 January 2011.