Abbot, who replaces Griff Rhys Jones in the role, is used to reviewing the situation in Oliver! as he originally played Fagin in the 1997 production at the London Palladium, upon which this revival is based. Abbot was also seen more recently in the role when he stood in for Rowan Atkinson for two weeks last year.
The comedian and actor achieved fame with his television comedy programme The Russ Abbot Show in the 1980s and went on to acting roles in TV dramas including September Song and, more recently, Last Of The Summer Wine. He is also an experienced stage actor, having appeared in West End productions of Little Me, One For The Road, Caught In The Net, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and My Fair Lady.
Abbot joins the cast of Oliver! at the same time as Stephen Moore, who replaces Julian Glover as Mr Brownlow. The pair will star alongside Kerry Ellis as Nancy and Steven Hartley as Bill Sikes.
Based on Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, Lionel Bart’s Oliver! recounts the story of a young orphan who becomes entangled with Fagin and his clan of professional pickpockets who inhabit the underbelly of Victorian London. The score includes the famous tunes Consider Yourself, I’d Do Anything and Food Glorious Food.