Oliver! the musical – Brand New UK Tour!

Following a sell-out run in London’s West End, Cameron Mackintosh’s fabulous new production of one of the most beloved British musicals ever, Oliver! is embarking on a brand new tour around the UK and Ireland.

Vividly bringing to life Dickens’ timeless characters with its ever-popular story of the boy who asked for more, Lionel Bart’s sensational score includes 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. A must-see for families!

For further details, visit: http://oliverthemusical.com

Oliver! From Page to Stage

The Charles Dickens Museum presents Oliver! From Page to Stage, an exhibition in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Lionel Bart’s hit musical originally opening in the West End on 30 June 1960.
The relationship between Dickens’s Oliver Twist and the stage is the subject of a new exhibition on display in the house where the original story was written, now the Charles Dickens Museum. Oliver! From Page to Stage traces the history of the world-wide popularity of the tale of the young orphan Oliver Twist, bringing together for the first time the unique collections of the Charles Dickens Museum, the Cameron Mackintosh Archive and the Lionel Bart Archive.

Visitors can see key artifacts including Dickens’s original manuscripts, costumes from the musical, stage props and a 1:25 model of the current production at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.  The exhibition is now open and will run until the Museum closes for refurbishment in 2011 in preparation for the 200th anniversary of Dickens’s birth in 2012.

Also on display are six oil paintings of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane by Francis Hamel Cook.    In 2008 following a commission to do two paintings for the main foyer of Wyndham’s Theatre, Francis was allowed access to sketch rehearsals for Oliver!    Capturing an ever-changing stage scene from the shadowy half-light of the auditorium was a challenge that he relished.   
Sir Cameron Mackintosh on this project:  I’m delighted that the 50th Anniversary of Lionel Bart’s Dickens of a musical “Oliver!” is being marked by this special exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum.  

Florian Schweizer, Director of the Charles Dickens Museum: “We are honoured to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Oliver! in the house where Charles Dickens created the original story over 160 years ago. This exhibition shows just how popular and important Oliver Twist has become in world culture and how theatrical adaptations have contributed to the enduring success of the novel. Dickens himself was one of the greatest stage performers of the Victorian age; this collaboration between the Museum and the Drury Lane production of Oliver! would undoubtedly have inspired Dickens. We are pleased to present this must-see exhibition which also marks the first phase of the redevelopment of the Museum for the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth in 2012.”

For more information, go visit www.dickensmuseum.com

All good things come to an end… Oliver! closing 8 Jan 2011

Following a successful 2 year run at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Oliver! has posted notice that it will close on 8 January 2011.
Oliver! opened at the grand Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 14 January 2009 with previews from 12 December 2008.
This musical is energetic, full of talented cast members, totally entertaining with beautiful, realistic sets/scenery.  Oliver! is produced by Cameron Mackintosh in association with the Southbrook Group Limited.  It is directed by Rupert Goold and Matthew Bourne (also choregraphed by Bourne), designed by Anthony Ward with lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Paul Groothuis, orchestrations by William D Brohn and musical supervision by Martin Koch.
The cast currently includes Kerry Ellis (Nancy), Russ Abbot (Fagin) and Steven Hartley (Bill Sikes).  Memorable songs include – to name a few –  Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, You’ve Got to Pick-a-Pocket or Two, I’d Do Anything, Oom Pah Pah, and As Long As He Needs Me.
If you haven’t seen it… don’t miss your chance.  It is definitely worth picking a pocket or two!

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Entertainer Russ Abot Takes Over as Fagin in Oliver!

OLIVER! will bid cheerio to Griff Rhys Jones on 12 June. Russ Abott, one of the most popular entertainers in Britain, will play Fagin from 14 June.

Russ is no stranger to OLIVER! having played the role of Fagin at the Palladium, Theatre Royal and on tour. He is probably best known for his TV comedy programme, The Russ Abbot Show, which enjoyed more than ten series on different channels, but his varied career has also encompassed releasing a single “Atmosphere”, which made it into the top ten, as well as television success with September Song, Married for Life, Mad House and TV to Go. He was also known as the face of Hamlet cigars. His many awards include Top Variety Act at the 1990 British Comedy Awards. Last year, the BBC announced that Abbot would be joining the cast of Last of the Summer Wine for the show’s 30th series.  Despite his television fame, Abbot is no stranger to the West End having starred in shows such as Neil Simon’s Little Me, Willy Russell’s One for the Road and the 2001 farce Caught in the Net, Ray Cooney’s sequel to Run for Your Wife. His other musical credits include Fagin in Oliver! at the London Palladium, UK tour and in Toronto, 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.

Book Tickets for Oliver!

Kerry Ellis will be new ‘Nancy’ in smash hit musical OLIVER!

Cameron Mackintosh has announced that Broadway and West End star Kerry Ellis will play ‘Nancy’ alongside Griff Rhys Jones as ‘Fagin’ and Steven Hartley as ‘Bill Sikes’ in the triumphant new production of Lionel Bart’s smash hit musical OLIVER! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane from Monday 29 March 2010. Jodie Prenger leaves the show on Saturday 27 March 2010 at the end of her contract. 

Cameron Mackintosh said:

“I’m really delighted that Kerry Ellis will take over the role of ‘Nancy’ when Jodie leaves Oliver! after a triumphant 15 month run. Kerry has become one of London’s favourite leading ladies and recently enjoyed a huge success in “Wicked”. I have had the pleasure of seeing Kerry’s career grow through roles in my productions of “My Fair Lady”, “Miss Saigon” and “Les Misérables” – where she was an outstanding ‘Fantine’. The part of ‘Nancy’ is one of the most heart-warming and tragic in any musical, so it is wonderful that the role attracts some great talents.”

Kerry Ellis (born 6 May 1979) is an English stage actress who has starred as Elphaba in the West End and Broadway productions of the musical Wicked. Among her previous notable roles are as Fantine in the West End production of Les Misérables and as Meat in the original London production of We Will Rock You.

Book Tickets for Oliver The Musical at Drury Lane Theatre!

Review: Pick your Pockets so you can go see Oliver!

Oliver the Musical was written by Lionel Bart.  It is directed by Rupert Goold & Matthew Bourne and produced by Cameron Mackintosh in association with the Southbrook Group Limited.  Cast, crew, stagehands, and management (all concerned) have really done a fabulous job with this musical.  The Drury Lane Theatre is a perfect theatre to host this funtastic show.  It is likely one of the larger theatres I’ve been in so far – very grand in size.  It is clean.  Its colors of cream, tan, red curtains, wood stained walls with gold accents add to its style.  The seats are stylish and comfortable enough.  Staff / ushers seem friendly.  There are crests and emblems on the fronts of the boxes adding to the character.  The theatre was a nice temperature.  A couple comments not so favourable would be that the exit doors aren’t very clearly marked.  Oh, they are clearly marked ‘exit’ but do not indicate where they exit to.  People would go out the wrong doors at intermission… doors that lead nowhere, certainly not to the bathroom or bar and we tend to follow the pack so where one goes, others follow.  The soft drinks were room temperature thereby requiring that I get a glass with ice which I dislike as it prevents me from being able to clap properly when the show restarts.  With a bottle and twist cap, I can reseal it when not drinking.  I’m not sure what was going on coming out of the theatre but traffic wasn’t flowing very smoothly (people seemed to be bumping into others or not knowing where to go, etc.) and the bike taxis parked on the sidewalk prevented ease of flow of foot traffic and vehicle traffic.  Minor things really, but just wanted to comment. 

I wouldn’t want to sit further back than Rows R/S in the Stalls as the full stage is used and there are times when there are actors up high (i.e.: on a bridge, etc.).  You can still see them but any further back and you might find yourself leaning forward to see.   Having said that, I think you still get the gist of what is going on. 

I must comment that there are not many shows these days which are totally kid friendly.  While, appreciatively, there was no swearing in this show, there is a pub scene which has some (perhaps unnecessary) adult-related acts / movements / suggestions that kids really don’t need to be exposed to.  Does it add to the musical?  Maybe.  Will it be missed if not there?  Probably not.  Are there other things that can be done to fill the time that would be just as amusing?  Probably.  It’s not as bad as I’ve seen in other shows and sadly enough our kids are exposed to this or worse on a daily basis but does that mean it should be the norm??  No.  Is their death in this show… yes… but not gory to the eyes – thank you for that.

This next comment is for the theatre goers.  They ask you to turn off your mobiles for a reason… it is distracting.  Whether it is ringing or you have it on vibrate… the light is distracting as well.  Unless you’re expecting an emergency / need someone to get hold of you at any time… turn it off all together – please.

Everyone must have heard of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.  It’s a book, movies, and a musical.  And why not… it’s a story everyone can be drawn to with misfortune, love, greed, sadness, and a happy ending.  Really, what’s not to love about this classic story and about this timeless musical?  There’s absolutely not one thing not to love!

I was thoroughly impressed with the whole package… the costumes looked so authentic, the actors all talented, the music absolutely terrific, and the set – well, I cannot say enough about the set.  It is absolutely amazing how you feel like you’re on a London dock on a foggy night or how the cobbled street looks like it goes on for miles or how the night sky looks so real or how you feel you’re underground in Fagin’s accommodations.  The buildings look so real along with everything else.  Also, the use of the walkway on the other side of the Orchestra just gives an added depth / interest.  I could write forever just about the set.  It is truly the most magnificent set I have ever seen.

A gentleman who was sitting beside me, a fellow Canadian, saw Oliver 25 years ago for the first time in London and he was seeing it again last night.  He only had good things to say… about Oliver back then and Oliver now.  He did say that technology has come such a long way.  I was looking on the internet and saw clips of different Oliver Musicals over the years.  I remember seeing one that had just a drawing of buildings as the backdrop and while I’m sure that worked back then, you’ve come a long way, baby!

When the show first started I thought… ‘What’s all the hype about’ but it didn’t take long to get into it (only a few moments – the first musical number had me).  I was totally amazed at the number of children in this musical… and bless them… they were absolutely terrific.  Oliver has a voice of an angel… Dodger is a likeable sort… but the littlest thief stole my heart.  Fagin’s ‘dears’ were all wonderful.  Honestly, I don’t know how the kids do it performance after performance… but they don’t miss a beat and just show so much energy and talent.  Nancy is like a big sister to the children and takes a shining to Oliver Twist who isn’t your run of the mill pickpocket.  Dolly Parton’s ‘bigger sister’ is in the musical – you’ll recognize her when you see her and you will see her.  Bill Sikes is a scary character but you know he does a good job at acting when he makes you hate him.  It’s nice to see him smile after the show is done when they’re taking their bows… he no longer looks menacing.  And Sikes has a pooch (Bull’s Eye?)… a sweet little four-legged character who although not seen much throughout the show, certainly does well when he is playing his parts.  There are so many characters to acknowledge… truly they are all brilliant but I don’t have that much room.  I will touch base on one more though… Fagin, played by Omid Djalili.  He is an absolute scream.  His dances, his songs, his jokes… for not such a nice man, you’ll become endeared to him.  And, what can we say… we have to give mention once more to the namesake… there wouldn’t be a show without OLIVER!

This is a classic story… one which everyone knows and loves.  The way it comes to life on the stage at the Drury Lane Theatre is worth experiencing.  Pick your pockets so you can become engaged with the beloved story of Oliver – only your own pockets though or you’ll be joining Fagin’s ‘dears’ in the workhouse!

by Ann Kamran (stagetalk.co.uk)


Book Tickets for Oliver at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Griff Rhys Jones will be next Fagin in OLIVER

Cameron Mackintosh has announced that award-winning actor Griff Rhys Jones will be the next star after Omid Djalili to play ‘Fagin’ in the triumphant new production of Lionel Bart’s smash hit musical OLIVER! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane from Monday 14 December 2009 until June 2010.

Jodie Prenger has extended her run in the role of Nancy through March 2010 and Steve Hartley comes to the role of Bill Sikes on 15th September after having enjoyed a huge success in the original London run of OLIVER! at the Palladium.

Giff Rhys Jones’ Biography:

Griff Rhys Jones was born in 1953 in Cardiff. Educated at Brentwood School in Essex, he won an exhibition to Emmanuel College, Cambridge to read History, transferring later to English. After a varied gap year including a job looking after a plethora of Canadian schoolgirls on the P&O ship Uganda he took up his place at Cambridge. He joined the Footlights Club (becoming its vice president in 1976), and was president of the Mummers and the ADC, appearing in and directing various productions.

After University (and after a short stint as a bodyguard to visiting Arabs) he joined the BBC as a trainee radio producer. Having played a selection of minor roles in the first series of Not The Nine O’Clock News, he was brought in as a regular member of the cast alongside Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson and Mel Smith after Chris Langham’s departure.

When Not The Nine O’Clock News finished he continued working with Mel Smith, and in a bid to stave off unemployment they founded Talkback Productions to produce their own shows and those of other performers. The company has gone on to produce and manage some of the major British comedy performers of the last twenty years. His writing and performing partnership with Mel Smith took off in 1984 with Alas Smith and Jones, one of the most successful and long running double acts on TV, running until the late 90s. He and Mel Smith sold the company in 2000 and it has continued to produce major hits for both BBC and commercial television.

Griff also continued working in the theatre, primarily in comedy and farce, winning Olivier awards for best comedy performance in Charley’s Aunt (1984) and An Absolute Turkey (1994), and appearing at the National Theatre as Toad in The Wind in the Willows. He also undertook some more serious acting roles for television, including A View of Harry Clarke in which he starred alongside Elaine Paige.

Recently he has become best known as a presenter, firstly of Bookworm and latterly of Restoration, which ran for three series. He was the driving force behind the restoration of Hackney Empire theatre in London, and has undertaken several projects of his own, notably the restoration of a Pembrokeshire farm, which was filmed for the BBC and was inspired by his own interest in architecture and conservation. He has also written and presented documentaries on Arthur Ransome, Rudyard Kipling and John Betjeman, and one on Thomas Hardy for broadcast later this year, as well as three Three Men in a Boat films with Dara O’Briain and Rory McGrath, and Mountain, which won a Scottish BAFTA in 2007. His latest outdoor series, River Journeys with Griff Rhys Jones, is due to be screened in 2009. Griff also took over as presenter of It’ll Be Alright on the Night in 2008. He has continued to work as a television actor, starring in Russell T Davies’s Mine All Mine, as well as roles in Riot at the Rite, Marple, Casualty and Jonathan Creek, and providing the voices for the children’s cartoon Funnybones.

Griff holds honorary degrees from University of East Anglia, APU and University of Glamorgan and is a Fellow of Welsh College of Music and Drama, Emmanuel College, Cambridge and the Royal Society of Arts. He gives a lot of time to charitable causes, from Comic Relief to the Lucie Blackman Trust, and in 2004 led the demonstration at Senate House, Cambridge to prevent the closure of the Architecture degree course at Cambridge. In 2007 he became Vice-President of the River Stour Trust, and in 2008 President of the Civic Trust; since its demise in 2009 he has been instrumental in setting up the Civic Society Initiative to replace it. An enthusiastic sailor, he owns the classic yacht Undina, which took the starring role in Three Men in Another Boat in 2007.

He has written and co-written many of the shows in which he appears, together with a number of books associated with them, and in 2002 began writing his first “proper” book To the Baltic With Bob, an account of a haphazard journey to St Petersburg. In 2006 his early autobiography Semi-Detached was featured as one of the recommended reads on Richard and Judy’s Book Club, and Mountain, the book accompanying his television series, was published in 2007.

Griff has been married for near on 30 years to designer Jo, whom he met when she had to throw water over him in a state of semi-nakedness for a Not The Nine O’Clock News sketch. They have a son and daughter (and a dog) and divide their time between homes in central London and Suffolk.

Courtesy: www.griff-rhysjones.co.uk

Book Tickets for OLIVER

Rowan Atkinson Forced TO Take Three Weeks Off From Oliver!

Rowan Atkinson has sustained an indirect inguinal hernia.  His doctors advise 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 the 27th April 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 this week. He has cut short his holiday to fly back to have surgery immediately to speed the recovery process.  The condition, whilst neither serious nor dangerous, is extremely painful and prevents normal movement, making performing impossible. 

Cameron Mackintosh is delighted to announce that we have been lucky enough to get Russ Abbot to return to the role of Fagin for two weeks from 13th April.  Russ played the role to considerable acclaim at the London Palladium in 1997 and again triumphantly on tour around the UK and in Toronto the following year.  Cameron Mackintosh said today, “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 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.” 

Oliver! The Musical Reviews

Oliver! Sets the West End alight Sunday Telegraph

The triumphant opening of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! is a glorious reminder of just how life-enhancing a musical can be Daily Telegraph

Blast away all those recession cobwebs. Anyone who needs cheering up should get along to Drury Lane sharpish and catch this humdinger of a night Daily Mail

What extraordinary excitement Lionel Bart’s Oliver! still stirs. A smash hit Evening Standard

Fresh, exuberant and spiritually full of beans. A little bit scary, a lot of fun, a rip-roaring success Independent on Sunday

Rowan Atkinson is an astonishing Fagin in this big thumping musical hit Sunday Express

Uplifting stuff. Jodie Prenger is terrific, great, earthy and warm. You’ll love it Sunday Times

A blistering hubbub of colour, crime, love and adventure. You’ve got to pick a pocket or two for this astounding show London Lite

The finest production I’ve ever seen on the West End stage. Beg, borrow, or steal a ticket – it’s worth it! Terry Wogan, BBC Radio 2

Book Tickets for Oliver! The Musical

Actor and Comedian Omid Djalili ‘Fagin’ in Olivier! from 20 July 2009

Actor and comedian Omid Djalili will be the next star to play ‘Fagin’ in Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane from Monday 20 July 2009.

Omid Djalili is an award-winning British-Iranian actor/comedian. Not only acclaimed as one of Britain’s funniest stand up comedians, he has also featured in films including ‘The Mummy’, ‘Gladiator’, ‘Spy Game’, ‘Modigliani’, ‘Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow’, ‘Casanova’, and will soon be seen in ‘The Allottment’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean III’. On TV he did two seasons of ‘Small Potatoes’ on Channel 4. In the States he signed a talent holding deal with NBC in 2002 and co-starred with Whoopi Goldberg in her sitcom  ‘Whoopi’ which ran from 2003-04. Most recently Omid has been commissioned to do his own series for BBC1, ‘The Omid Djalili Show’ to be seen in 2007.

Cameron Mackintosh presents his triumphant new staging of Lionel Bart’s masterpiece Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, which was last seen at the Palladium in 1994. Oliver! is one of the most beloved British musicals, vividly bringing to life Dickens’ timeless characters with its ever popular story of the boy who asked for more.

Winner of BBC reality show ‘I’d Do Anything’ Jodie Prenger will continue to play ‘Nancy’ until to 12 Dec 2009.

Book Tickets for Oliver The Musical!