Alice Fearn will play Nancy
Alice Fearn will play Nancy

Casting has been announced for Luke Sheppard's production of Oliver!, which opens at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury on 31 July.

Alice Fearn (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Shrek, Les Miserables) will play Nancy, with Ashley Artus (The Lion King, Oliver!, Les Miserables) as Fagin and Kit Orton (Tom, Spalamot, The Hired Man) as Bill Sikes.

The cast also includes Tomm Coles (Mr Sowerberry); Rachel Dawson (Bet); Joey Hickman (Noah); Deborah Hewitt (Charlotte); Graham Lappin (Mr Bumble); Rhona McGregor (Mrs Sowerberry); Susannah Van Den Berg (Widow Corney); and Steve Watts (Mr Brownlow).

The Watermill's professional company will be joined by three teams of aspiring young performers from the local community, as part of the theatre's ongoing commitment to develop and nurture emerging talent.

Oliver will be played by Thomas Kerry (aged 11), Arthur Burdess (9) and Raiko Gohara (12).

Based on Dickens's Oliver Twist, Oliver! first opened in the West End in 1960, and has since had numerous revivals, including 2013's WhatsOnStage Award-winning production at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre. It is being staged at Leicester Curve this Christmas.

Luke Sheppard told WhatsOnStage: "I'm most looking forward to the challenge. We have an extraordinary adult cast and a brilliant young ensemble, but that's a lot of bodies to get on one tightly proportioned stage! It's an epic story told in an intimate setting and there is a real thrill in discovering a new life for what I truly believe is one of the greatest pieces of musical theatre in the canon."

Oliver! runs at the Watermill Theatre, Newbury, from 31 July to 19 September.