The musical Oliver!, which was due to start previewing on Friday, has cancelled its first two performances at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in order to allow more rehearsal time for the large cast. The show now begins previews this Saturday evening, 13 December.
The show, which stars Jodie Prenger and Rowan Atkinson, has an adult cast of 35 plus three teams of 50 children who alternate between performances. In a statement, producer Cameron Mackintosh said: “Due to the complexity of the production and the need to safely rehearse 150 children with the adult company of 35 actors on a moving set, we have decided that we need extra rehearsal time and therefore, with great regret, I have decided to cancel the first two previews.
“I am terribly sorry for the disappointment this will cause, but my team are doing everything to reseat patrons into future performances as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we are working towards creating a fantastic show which will be the largest production of Oliver! ever seen.”
Those who hold tickets for the cancelled performances (12 December 19:30 and 13 December 14:30) are advised to contact their original point of sale to arrange an exchange or refund.
This production of Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver! is based on the staging at the London Palladium in 1994, which was directed by Sam Mendes. Laurence Olivier Award-winning director Rupert Goold takes on directing duties for this revival at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
The show is the latest to be cast using reality television, with Prenger winning the right to play Nancy in the BBC programme I’d Do Anything earlier this year. The three boys playing young orphan Oliver – Gwion Jones, Harry Stott and Laurence Jeffcoate – were also cast on the same programme.
Oliver! also stars Atkinson as Fagin, Burn Gorman as Bill Sikes, plus Julian Glover, Rosemary Leach, Julian Bleach and Louise Gold. Tamsin Carroll will play Nancy on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.