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Morrisey & Conley Lead National Tour of Oliver!

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Man Behaving Badly's Neil Morrissey and musical theatre star Brian Conley will alternate in the role of Fagin in the previously tipped tour of Oliver! which launches from the Wales Millennium Centre this December.

Lionel Bart’s 1960 musical, which played a two-year run at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane before closing in January, will open in Cardiff on 20 December (previews from 12 December 2011) playing dates in Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton, Edinburgh, Plymouth, Newcastle, Leeds and Bristol with venues confirmed through to March 2013.

Morrissey's West End credits include Victoria Wood's 2005 production of Acorn Antiques at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and Guys and Dolls alongside Sally Ann Triplett. He will play Fagin during the show's opening in Cardiff as well as Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol.

Conley is currently touring the UK in Craig Revel Horwood's Neil Diamond musical Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show. He was last seen in the West End playing Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, going on to tour the UK with the show. His other theatre credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium and his Olivier-nominated performance in Jolson. Conley plays Fagin for the production's dates in Birmingham, Southampton, Edinburgh Plymouth and Newcastle.

In a press statement producer Cameron Mackintosh said today: "It is 46 years since I appeared in the first national tour of Oliver! and this show has been close to my heart ever since. Little did I know then that I would one day be this brilliant musical's producer and co-owner. Every time I produce the show Lionel Bart’s marvellous musical becomes a smash hit all over again, so I’m thrilled to bring you yet another spectacular new version starring Neil Morrissey and 
Brian Conley."

Oliver! opened with the West End’s largest-ever advance of £15 million, on 14 January 2009 (previews from 12 December) and ran to 8 January 2011. Based on Charles Dickens’ literary classic Oliver Twist and, beyond its theatre fanbase, Lionel Bart’s musical found legions of fans from the 1968 film version. 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 most recent London revival was directed by Rupert Goold, based on Sam Mendes’ 1994 staging at the London Palladium. Goold was joined by two key members of Mendes’ original creative team, Matthew Bourne, who co-directed and choreographed the outing, and set designer Anthony Ward. Lighting was 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.

Oliver! will be produced by Cameron Mackintosh in association with Southbrook Group Limited and Stage Entertainment UK. Further casting has still to be announced.

Full tour dates were today released as:

Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff 10 Dec 2011 – 21 Jan 2012
Manchester Palace Theatre 24 Jan – 10 Mar 2012
Manchester Palace Theatre 24 Jan – 10 Mar 2012
Birmingham Hippodrome 13 Mar – 21 Apr 2012
Southampton Mayflower 1 – 26 May 2012
Edinburgh Playhouse 30 May – 23 Jun 2012
Plymouth Theatre Royal 7 Aug – 8 Sep 2012
Newcastle Theatre Royal 11 Sep - 13 Nov 2012
Leeds Grand Theatre 6 Nov – 8 Dec 2012
Bristol Hippodrome 15 Jan – 2 Mar 2013

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