Oliver! at Drury Lane from 12 Dec 2008 - stars Rowan Atkinson as Fagin

Oliver! at Drury Lane from 12 Dec 2008 - stars Rowan Atkinson as ‘Fagin’

Lionel Bart's Oliver!, will open at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 14 Jan 2009, following previews from 12 Dec 2008.

Public booking opens Monday 7 April 2008.

The musical will feature Rowan Atkinson as ‘Fagin’. The roles of ‘Nancy’ and ‘Oliver’, are being decided by BBC reality show 'I’d Do Anything'.

The musical is directed by Rupert Goold, based on Sam Mendes’ 1994 staging, along with co-director and choreographer Matthew Bourne. It is designed by Anthony Ward; lighting by Paule Constable and sound is by Paul Groothuis, with orchestrations by William D Brohn and musical supervision by Martin Koch. It is produced by Cameron Mackintosh in association with the Southbrook Group Limited.

The 1994 London Palladium production of “OLIVER!” played 1,366 performances over three years and grossed more than £40 million at the box office breaking the then record for the longest run at that theatre.

Rowan Atkinson A founder member of the BBC's Not the Nine O’clock News team, in 1981 he became the youngest performer to have a one-man show in the West End. TV credits include four series of Blackadder; Mr Bean,The Thin Blue Line. Film credits include Johnny English and the Bean films: The Ultimate Disaster Movie and Mr Bean’s Holiday.

Rowan Atkinson says, “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.”

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. I have wanted to give London some more of “OLIVER!” for some time as I last produced Lionel Bart’s masterpiece at the Palladium 14 years ago when it was staged by the, then, upcoming Sam Mendes and Matthew Bourne, with acclaimed sets by Anthony Ward.

"This time around, still based on Sam’s 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, including an exciting new ‘Nancy’ and ‘Oliver’, who Andrew Lloyd Webber and BBC TV’s I’d Do Anything are helping us to discover. It was while I was enjoying my first theatre job as a stagehand at Drury Lane 43 years ago that I was given a chorus part in the original national tour of “OLIVER!” and I first met Lionel Bart, so I will consider myself truly back home with this production, I only wish Lionel was here to see it.”

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