News: Oliver! To Open In The West End With Casting Announced

April 18, 2024
News: Oliver! To Open In The West End With Casting Announced

The new production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! will open this year in the West End after its run at Chichester Festival Theatre in July.

The performances at Gielgud Theatre will begin on Saturday 14th December 2024. Priority booking begins on Friday 26th April and general sale from Monday 29th April. The production runs at Chichester Festival Theatre from 8th July to 7th September.

The cast includes Simon Lipkin (Guys and Dolls, Avenue Q) as Fagin, Shanay Holmes (Miss Saigon, The Bodyguard) as Nancy, Aaron Sidwell (Henry VI, Wicked) as Bill Sikes, Billy Jenkins (Les Misérables, BBC’s Dodger) as the Artful Dodger and Philip Franks (The Rocky Horror Show, Witness for the Prosecution) as Mr Brownlow.

Cameron Mackintosh commented:

“Oliver! has been part of my life as actor, stage-manager and producer since I first saw it as a schoolboy in 1960, shortly after it opened and began to take the world by storm on stage and screen. The original production design was revolutionary and changed the musical theatre and my career forever.

Matthew Bourne and I, alongside Sam Mendes, first reinvented Lionel Bart’s masterpiece in 1994 with a huge production at the London Palladium which we restaged in an even grander way in 2009 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Now 15 years later, having staged the largest production of Oliver! ever, we want to return to the scale of the brilliant original with a more intimate production, thrillingly designed by Lez Brotherston, which in a sweepingly imaginative way conjures up Dickensian London.

Lionel’s irresistible adaptation of Dickens classic story, with its legendary score packed with ‘tunes glorious tunes’ will, we hope, have audiences ‘considering themselves our mate’ when we open at London’s Gielgud Theatre this December with a terrific cast, following a summer season at the Chichester Festival Theatre.”

Matthew Bourne commented:

“In 1994, I first worked, as a choreographer, with Cameron Mackintosh on Lionel Bart’s legendary musical Oliver! – the spectacular Palladium revival, directed by Sam Mendes – it launched a collaboration and friendship that has become one of the most important of my career. Nearly 30 years on I’m delighted that Cameron has invited me to direct my first musical and my lifelong relationship with Oliver! continues!

Along with my regular collaborators Lez Brotherston and Paule Constable, we are taking it back to its roots, inspired by the groundbreaking “poor theatre” designs of Sean Kenny – who revolutionised the modern musical along with Lionel and his Joan Littlewood Theatre Workshop influences. As an East-End Londoner myself l’ve always felt a great affinity with this show – sang all the songs in amateur shows as a kid with my brother and was a regular at Theatre Royal Stratford East as a teenager, even seeing Joan and Lionel in the bar there on several occasions.

I was lucky enough to work closely with Lionel on the 1994 revival which was an absolute thrill (though in a recently unearthed TV interview when asked about the production he tells the interviewer “Some days I wanted to fire the lot of em”!!). But I loved him a lot (and I think he liked me!) and hope to do him and Oliver! proud in 2024.”

Freely adapted from Charles Dickens’ novel, Oliver! tells the story of the orphaned Oliver Twist, who escapes the harsh Victorian workhouse and takes refuge in London’s murky underworld with the wily gang leader Fagin and his team of resourceful pickpockets led by the Artful Dodger. He finds a friend in the kind-hearted Nancy and when he’ s wrongly arrested for stealing, Oliver meets an unexpected saviour; but is happiness truly within his grasp?

With a sensational score, including 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 Olivier, Tony and Oscar-winning masterpiece vividly brings to life Dickens’ ever-popular story of the boy who asked for more.

Produced and revised by Cameron Mackintosh, Oliver! is directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne and co-directed by Jean-Pierre van der Spuy. Designed by Lez Brotherston, lighting design is by Paule Constable and Ben Jacobs, sound design by Adam Fisher, video design by George Reeve, original orchestrations by William David Brohn adapted by Stephen Metcalfe; music supervision is by Graham Hurman.

Oliver! is a Cameron Mackintosh and Chichester Festival Theatre production.

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