After Jodie Prenger won the role of Nancy in Oliver! in the Saturday’s finale of I’d Do Anything (See Today’s Other News), show producer Cameron Mackintosh has this afternoon confirmed further casting for the production, which opens on 14 January 2009 (previews from 12 December 2008) at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (See News, 26 Mar 2008).

As previously tipped (See The Goss, 13 May 2008), Burn Gorman (pictured) will play Bill Sikes, the abusive and thieving boyfriend of Prenger’s Nancy. Though Oliver! will mark Gorman’s musical debut, it won’t be his first go at Charles Dickens. He appeared in the 2005 BBC adaptation of Bleak House. His other screen credits include Torchwood (alongside I’d Do Anything judge John Barrowman), Layer Cake, Colour Me Kubrick and the upcoming Bonekickers. On stage, he’s been seen in Mark Ravenhill’s Pool (no water) and Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat cycle.

Others also newly confirmed for the musical’s 75-strong company are Julian Bleach (Shockheaded Peter and, most recently, Antony and Cleopatra and The Tempest for the RSC) as Mr Sowerberry and stage veteran Rosemary Leach (whose recent credits include The Shell Seekers and The Old Ladies) as Mrs Bedwin.

The new cast members join the previously announced Rowan Atkinson as Fagin and, as chosen by Mackintosh and I’d Do Anything judge Andrew Lloyd Webber as part of the TV series (See News, 27 May 2008), the three boys who will alternate in the title role: Gwion Jones, Harry Stott and Laurence Jeffcoate. Open auditions are being held in London on 14 June 2008 to find the Artful Dodger and other members of Fagin’s gang.

Oliver! will be directed by Rupert Goold, based on Sam Mendes’ 1994 staging at the London Palladium. Goold will be joined by two key members of Mendes’ original creative team, Matthew Bourne, who will co-direct and choreograph the new outing, and set designer Anthony Ward. Lighting is by Paule Constable, sound by Paul Groothuis, orchestrations by William D Brohn and musical supervision by Martin Koch. Mendes’ production ran for 1,366 performances from December 1994 to February 1998 at the Palladium, where it grossed more than £40 million.

Lionel Bart’s 1960 musical is based on Charles Dickens’ literary classic Oliver Twist and, beyond its theatre fanbase, found legions of fans from the 1968 film version starring Mark Lester as Oliver, Shani Wallis as Nancy, Ron Moody as Fagin, Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger and Oliver Reed as Bill Sikes. The score includes now-famous songs including “Consider Yourself”, “It’s a Fine Life”, “As Long as He Needs Me”, “Oom-pah-pah”, “Food, Glorious Food”, “I’d Do Anything” and the title song. The stage production is presented by Mackintosh in association with the Southbrook Group Limited.

- by Terri Paddock

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